Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-CR-10-9696.
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and John J. Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Peter R. Marker, Assistant County Attorney, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent).
Mark D. Nyvold, Special Assistant Public Defender, Fridley, Minnesota (for appellant).
Considered and decided by Stauber, Presiding Judge; Schellhas, Judge; and Hooten, Judge.
In his appeal from a conviction for second-degree intentional murder, appellant claims that the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence of spent bullet casings and by admitting the portion of his custodial interrogation in which he admitted to methamphetamine use. Because the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that appellant failed to show any prejudice from the lack of DNA testing on the casings or as a result of the admission of the challenged portion of his interrogation, and did not err in denying appellant's motion to suppress evidence from the casings, we affirm.
Incident of November 9, 2010
On November 9, 2010, appellant arrived at the St. Paul residence of G.C. on Payne Avenue in St. Paul with a friend named "Nate" and some electronics that he wanted G.C. to fix. While at the residence, appellant showed G.C. his .22 caliber gun. G.C. also learned that appellant's friend had a .45 caliber gun and bullets in a bag.
N.M. arrived at the residence around 10:20 or 10:30 p.m. to visit with G.C.'s son, C.C. Upon arrival, she was shown into the house by C.C.'s mother, where she saw two males, one of whom introduced himself as "Nate." According to N.M., Nate, later identified as Nate Durick, appeared angry and was wearing a sweatshirt with a hood. She recalled seeing another male for approximately 15 or 30 seconds and noted that he was also wearing a sweatshirt. Minutes after her arrival, N.M. left with C.C. to visit a friend's residence nearby. After spending a few minutes at the friend's residence, they walked towards an intersection near C.C.'s residence, at which time N.M. heard ten or eleven shots. After about "eight seconds, " N.M. saw two men run across an alley and away from the scene between two houses. She recognized these individuals as the males inside C.C.'s residence "kind of by the sweatshirts and saggy pants, " and recalled that one male directed the other individual she recognized as "Nate." C.C. and G.C. heard C.C.'s mother scream. The victim, J.S., was lying, face down and gasping for breath, by the corner of the residence. J.S. visited the residence earlier that night looking for C.C.'s sister. He later died from bullet wounds.
St. Paul police officers recovered numerous spent bullet casings from the alley behind the Payne Avenue residence and discovered a bloody trail from a nearby intersection to the place where J.S. was found after the shooting. Officers recovered three casings from a .22 caliber gun and nine casings from a .45 caliber gun. Spent bullet casings were also recovered from an alley behind a residence on Hatch Avenue, a location "[s]everal miles away" from the crime scene on Payne Avenue, after a complaint was received on the morning of November 10, 2010, from a homeowner on Hatch Avenue who reported that there were multiple .45 caliber casings in the alley behind his residence and that his wife heard gun shots during the night. Police found spent casings and a glass drug pipe in the alley. Investigators later determined that these casings may have been related to the shooting on Payne Avenue.
On November 10, 2010, the St. Paul crime lab performed fingerprint analysis on the casings from Payne Avenue, but the analysis did not produce identifiable prints. DNA testing was not performed on the casings. On November 12, 2010, most of the casings were sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) for ballistics analysis. On February 11, 2011, a forensic scientist with the BCA's firearm section analyzed the casings from both sites. A comparison of the .45 caliber casings from each scene concluded that they were all fired from the same firearm. Similarly, the six .22 caliber casings were also fired from the same firearm. Testing also established that a piece of a bullet recovered from J.S.'s body was from a .22 caliber bullet.
W.M., a friend of J.S., testified that about four days before the incident, he and J.S were involved in a fight near the Payne Avenue residence. He explained that he, J.S., and another friend saw appellant walking down the street with two friends. J.S. walked towards appellant, who, in turn, walked towards W.M. with a bottle. Appellant and J.S began fighting, and one of the other individuals with appellant threw a rock at W.M. The groups fought for about four or five minutes, and W.M. thought that as a result of the fight, one of appellant's friends was knocked unconscious. W.M. thought that ...