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Dobbins v. State

Supreme Court of Minnesota

October 2, 2013

Demetrius Devell Dobbins, Sr., Appellant,
v.
State of Minnesota, Respondent.

Office of Appellate Courts Anoka County

Demetrius Devell Dobbins, Sr., Rush City, Minnesota, pro se.

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Anthony C. Palumbo, Anoka County Attorney, Marcy S. Crain, Assistant County Attorney, Anoka, Minnesota, for respondent.

Stras, J. Took no part, Lillehaug, J.

SYLLABUS

1. The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it excluded the out-of-court statements offered by the appellant that did not satisfy the statement-against-interest exception in Minn. R. Evid. 804(b)(3).

2. The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the appellant's witness-recantation claim following an evidentiary hearing.

3. The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the appellant's request for the appointment of advisory counsel to assist him at the postconviction evidentiary hearing.

4. The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the appellant's motion to expand the scope of the postconviction evidentiary hearing.

Considered and decided by the court without oral argument.

OPINION

STRAS, Justice.

Following a jury trial, the district court convicted appellant Demetrius Devell Dobbins, Sr., of the first-degree premeditated murder of Quintin Roderick Lavender. See Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(1) (2012). We affirmed Dobbins's conviction on direct appeal. State v. Dobbins (Dobbins I), 725 N.W.2d 492 (Minn. 2006). Dobbins later filed a petition for postconviction relief. The postconviction court summarily denied Dobbins's petition, but we reversed and remanded to the postconviction court for an evidentiary hearing on Dobbins's false-testimony claim. Dobbins v. State (Dobbins II), 788 N.W.2d 719 (Minn. 2010). Following a hearing, the postconviction court again denied Dobbins's petition. On appeal, Dobbins asserts that the postconviction court abused its discretion when it denied his petition. We affirm.

I.

On December 5, 2003, the Minneapolis police received a telephone call about a homicide at a home in Columbia Heights. The police later saw two men—Dobbins and Myshohn King—approach the home. Dobbins and King matched the caller's description of the men who had allegedly perpetrated the homicide. The police arrested the two men and searched the home. The police discovered Lavender's body in a storage shed in the backyard.

At Dobbins's trial, the evidence established the following facts. Dobbins had supplied Lavender with nine bags of marijuana. Lavender had sold the marijuana, but never paid Dobbins his share of the proceeds. On the day of the murder, Dobbins confronted Lavender about the outstanding debt. Lavender promised to pay Dobbins that day. King, Dobbins, and Lavender then took a bus to Dobbins's home in Columbia Heights. Shortly thereafter, Andre Coleman, who was wearing gloves and carrying a gun, arrived at the home. King testified that, after Coleman arrived, Dobbins and Coleman went into a bedroom together. Before long, Dobbins returned to the living room "with the gloves on" and "shot [Lavender] twice."

The jury found Dobbins guilty of first-degree premeditated murder. The district court convicted Dobbins of that offense and sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of supervised release after 30 years. We affirmed Dobbins's conviction on direct appeal, Dobbins I, 725 N.W.2d at 513, and the Supreme Court of the United States denied Dobbins's petition for a writ of certiorari, Dobbins v. Minnesota, 551 U.S. 1153 (2007).

Less than 2 years later, Dobbins filed a petition for postconviction relief, which alleged, among other things, that King had testified falsely at Dobbins's trial. To support the petition, Dobbins submitted an affidavit from D.H., who had been incarcerated with King. In the affidavit, D.H. said that King had confessed to murdering Lavender. D.H. also said that King had explained that he had blamed the murder on Dobbins to receive a reduced sentence. The postconviction court denied Dobbins's petition without an evidentiary hearing.

We reversed and remanded for an evidentiary hearing on Dobbins's false- testimony claim. Dobbins II, 788 N.W.2d at 737. We concluded that Dobbins was entitled to an evidentiary hearing because his petition alleged facts that, if proven, would entitle him to a new trial under the Larrison test. Dobbins II, 788 N.W.2d at 734-37. Under the La ...


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