Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-CR-11-4006
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and John Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Peter R. Marker, Assistant County Attorney, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)
David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Bridget Kearns Sabo, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Kirk, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Chutich, Judge.
On appeal from his convictions of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for sexually abusing his daughter, appellant argues that: (1) the district court abused its discretion by admitting evidence that his daughter was also sexually abused by her uncles; (2) the district court committed plain error by admitting evidence that appellant physically abused his family members; and (3) he is entitled to a new trial due to the cumulative effect of trial errors. We affirm.
In May 2011, respondent State of Minnesota charged appellant Lonnie Vincent End-of-Horn with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The state later filed an amended complaint that added a second count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The first count of the complaint alleged that appellant engaged in sexual penetration with his daughter, S.J.E., between November 1, 2001, and May 24, 2011. The second count alleged that appellant engaged in sexual penetration with S.J.E. between January 1, 2010, and May 24, 2011. After a trial in June 2012, the jury found appellant guilty of both counts. This appeal follows.
I. The district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence that the victim was sexually abused by her uncles.
This court reviews a district court's evidentiary ruling for an abuse of discretion. State v. Graham, 764 N.W.2d 340, 351 (Minn. 2009). "A court abuses its discretion when its decision is based on an erroneous view of the law or is against logic and the facts in the record." Riley v. State, 792 N.W.2d 831, 833 (Minn. 2011).
Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by admitting evidence that S.J.E.'s two uncles abused her because the probative value of the evidence is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. A district court may exclude relevant evidence "if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice." Minn. R. Evid. 403. Unfair prejudice "is not merely damaging evidence, even severely damaging evidence; rather, unfair prejudice is evidence that persuades by illegitimate means, giving one party an unfair advantage." State v. Schultz, 691 N.W.2d 474, 478 (Minn. 2005). Probative evidence will "be admitted unless the tendency of the evidence to persuade by illegitimate means overwhelms its legitimate probative force." Id. at 478-79.
At the beginning of the trial, appellant moved to exclude reference to S.J.E.'s allegations that her two uncles, S.C. and R.C., had sexually abused her. In response, the state argued that the evidence was relevant because it explained why S.J.E. waited so long to disclose that she was being abused by appellant, and it provided insight into the environment in which S.J.E. was living. The district court determined that the evidence was relevant and admissible, finding that it explained why S.J.E. did not disclose to her uncles that appellant was abusing her. The district court also found that appellant's reaction to S.J.E.'s disclosure that her uncle had sexually abused her was ...