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In re Welfare of M. C. S.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

September 9, 2013

In the Matter of the Welfare of: M. C. S., Child.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Clay County District Court File No. 14-JV-12-1903

David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Susan Andrews, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Brian J. Melton, Clay County Attorney, Cheryl Duysen, Assistant County Attorney, Moorhead, Minnesota (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge; Stauber, Judge; and Hooten, Judge.

HALBROOKS, Judge

On appeal from a juvenile-delinquency adjudication of second-degree assault and possession of a dangerous weapon, appellant M.C.S. argues that the evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not act in self-defense. Alternatively, he seeks a new trial on the ground that the district court violated his Sixth Amendment right to confrontation by relying on an extra-record witness statement in reaching its verdict. We affirm.

FACTS

On May 27, 2012, M.C.S. entered a Stop-N-Go convenience store in Moorhead. As he walked down the candy aisle, M.C.S. encountered E.A., who was standing in the aisle with a friend. M.C.S. and E.A. recognized each other from school. M.C.S. was afraid of E.A. because he assaulted one of M.C.S.'s friends in the past and was reputed to carry a gun.

E.A. asked M.C.S. if he wanted to go outside to fight. After M.C.S. asked E.A. to repeat himself, E.A. pointed to the parking lot and asked, "Do you want to go?" Surveillance video from the convenience store shows the juveniles exiting the store immediately following their conversation. E.A. left first, followed closely by M.C.S. and E.A.'s friend.

M.C.S. followed E.A. to the nearest corner of the parking lot where the two juveniles stopped and began circling each other with their fists raised. E.A.'s friend looked on. After about 18 seconds of circling each other, E.A. struck M.C.S. in the face, knocking him to the ground. Within three seconds, M.C.S. got to his feet and lunged toward E.A. with his arm extended. E.A. immediately stumbled away in the opposite direction, and his girlfriend later took him to the emergency room.

The hospital where E.A. was admitted reported the incident to the Moorhead Police Department. Officers were dispatched to the hospital to interview E.A. who reported that M.C.S. had stabbed him at a Stop-N-Go earlier that night. Following further investigation, the police conducted an interview with M.C.S., who was accompanied by his father. M.C.S. admitted that he was involved in an altercation with E.A. on May 27 at the Stop-N-Go, and that during the fight he stabbed E.A. in the leg with a knife he was carrying.

M.C.S. was charged by juvenile petition with second-degree assault, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.222, subd. 1 (2010); possession of a dangerous weapon, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.66, subd. 1(a)(5) (2010); possession of drug paraphernalia, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.092 (2010); and possession of a small amount of marijuana, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.027, subd. 4(a) (2010).

M.C.S. pleaded not guilty to all counts and filed a self-defense motion. At a bench trial, the parties stipulated to the evidence, and the district court received into evidence M.C.S.'s statement to law enforcement, photographs taken by law enforcement, and ...


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