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State v. Murphy

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

September 16, 2013

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
Tyrone Demetrius Murphy, Appellant.


Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-11-38483.

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Elizabeth Johnston, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent).

David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Michael F. Cromett, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant).

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


Appellant challenges his convictions of third-degree assault and aiding and abetting theft from person, arguing that (1) the district court deprived him of his right to a speedy trial; (2) the district court's omission of an accomplice jury instruction affected his substantial rights and requires reversal to ensure fairness and integrity of the judicial proceedings; (3) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction of third-degree assault; and (4) the district court erred by sentencing him on both convictions that arose out of the same behavioral incident. Because the district court did not violate appellant's right to a speedy trial, the omission of the accomplice jury instruction did not affect his substantial rights, and the evidence was sufficient to support his third-degree-assault conviction, we affirm. Because appellant's convictions arose out of a single behavioral incident, we remand to the district court for vacation of one of the sentences.


Appellant Tyrone Murphy and D.H. were neighbors in a Brooklyn Park apartment building. On the evening of June 17, 2011, D.H. entertained Murphy and friends in his apartment. D.H. drank alcohol and stated that he felt its effects but was not intoxicated. The gathering ended after Murphy and a guest argued and D.H. asked everyone to leave. Later that evening, D.H. encountered Murphy and his girlfriend, F.W., in the hallway of the apartment building. D.H. testified at trial that he walked down the hallway and entered the elevator, Murphy prevented the elevator doors from closing, and Murphy hollered at D.H. with an aggressive demeanor. D.H. was fearful, left the elevator, backed up the hallway toward his apartment door, and Murphy pushed him against the wall. To keep Murphy away, D.H. grabbed Murphy's neck. Murphy then punched D.H. in the head, D.H. fell backwards onto the floor, and Murphy got on top of D.H. and hit him a few more times. D.H. thought that someone kicked him in the head a couple of times and he "heard one of them say 'I got his wallet.'" After the altercation, he was missing his wallet. D.H. bit one of Murphy's fingers when it landed near his mouth. D.H. sustained a laceration on his forehead between his eyebrows.

F.W. testified that she observed the altercation between Murphy and D.H. Her testimony was consistent with D.H.'s testimony. F.W. denied hitting or kicking D.H. but admitted that she picked up a wallet from the floor next to D.H.'s feet and brought it to Murphy's apartment. She denied that she stated in the hallway that she had D.H.'s wallet. After returning to Murphy's apartment, when Murphy asked her to get his wallet from his bedroom, she realized that the wallet she brought to the apartment belonged to D.H. She told Murphy that she had mistakenly taken D.H.'s wallet and wanted to return it to him. Murphy said, "No, just give it to me, " and F.W. gave him the wallet.

Murphy testified that he acted in self-defense. He testified that he and D.H. argued about money D.H. owed him and about who owned a bottle of alcohol. When Murphy walked down the hallway holding the bottle of alcohol, D.H. followed him, grabbed him by the throat, and squeezed. Murphy punched D.H. in the face to make D.H. let go. D.H. let go, came toward Murphy, and bit Murphy's thumb. Murphy hit D.H. again to get him to release his thumb and fell on top of D.H because his thumb was in D.H.'s mouth. Murphy did not see F.W. take the wallet in the hallway or hear her say anything about the wallet. F.W. showed him the wallet in Murphy's apartment and said that she wanted to return it. Murphy took the wallet from F.W. and told her that he would return it to D.H. the following day.

Brooklyn Park Police Officers Adam Rolshouse and Chris Donahue arrived at the scene. D.H. told them that Murphy had assaulted him, that a woman was with Murphy, and that someone took his wallet. The officers observed blood on the wall, the hallway carpet leading to D.H.'s apartment, and the apartment door. Murphy acknowledged the altercation but denied any knowledge of D.H.'s wallet. The officers located D.H.'s wallet in Murphy's apartment on his bed. F.W. lied to the officers, saying that she was not present during the altercation.

Respondent State of Minnesota charged Murphy with first-degree aggravated robbery. A jury found Murphy guilty of third-degree assault and aiding and abetting theft from person. The district court stayed imposition of sentence on both counts and placed Murphy on probation for three years.

This appeal follows.[1]


I. Right to Speedy Trial

The United States and Minnesota Constitutions guarantee the right to a speedy trial. U.S. Const. amend. VI; Minn. Const. art I, § 6; State v. DeRosier, 695 N.W.2d 97, 108 (Minn. 2005). "A speedy-trial challenge presents a constitutional question subject to de novo review." State v. Hahn, 799 N.W.2d 25, 29 (Minn.App. 2011), review denied (Minn. Aug. 24, 2011).

To determine whether an accused was deprived of the right to a speedy trial, we consider the four-factor balancing test announced in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530-33, 92 S.Ct. 2182, 2191-93 (1972): "(1) the length of the delay, (2) the reason for the delay, (3) whether the defendant asserted his or her right to a speedy trial, and (4) whether the delay prejudiced the defendant." DeRosier, 695 N.W.2d at 109. "None of the factors is either a necessary or sufficient condition to the finding of a deprivation of the right to a speedy trial. Rather, they are related factors and must be considered together with such other circumstances as may be relevant." State v. Windish, 590 N.W.2d 311, 315 (Minn. 1999) (quotation omitted).

A. Length of Delay

A trial must commence within 60 days after a speedy-trial demand is made, unless good cause is shown for a longer delay. Minn. R. Crim. P. 11.09(b). Delay beyond 60 days from a demand for speedy trial is presumptively prejudicial and triggers consideration of the ...

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