Dakota County District Court File No. 19HA-CR-11-1930.
Lori Swanson, Minnesota Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and James C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Jessica A. Bierwerth, Assistant County Attorney, Amy A. Schaffer, Assistant County Attorney, Hastings, Minnesota (for respondent).
David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Sharon E. Jacks, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant).
Considered and decided by Kirk, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Chutich, Judge.
Appellant William Quinones Santiago argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions of two counts of second-degree assault and that he should have received a downward durational sentencing departure based on two mitigating factors. Because the evidence was more than adequate to support the convictions and the district court properly exercised its broad discretion in sentencing, we affirm.
On October 23, 2010, appellant William Quinones Santiago was at a Kmart store in West Saint Paul. Kmart loss prevention officers J.M. and K.M. determined that Santiago was concealing cologne bottles in his pockets to steal them. When Santiago tried to leave the store, J.M., standing in the foyer of the exit, confronted him and asked him to return the cologne. K.M. joined his colleague and stood next to him. After "fiddling around" with something behind his back, Santiago pulled his right hand out from behind his back and displayed a knife.
Santiago held the knife slightly above waist level with his arm extended, pointing the knife at the two employees. One of the employees testified that the knife was within a couple of feet of him. Both men feared Santiago would injure them and felt threatened by the knife.
J.M. testified that, after seeing the knife and "look[ing] at it long enough to register that it was a knife, " he "turned and ran out of the building" because "if [he] didn't get out of the way, [he] might have been stabbed." After K.M. saw the knife, he also backed off and went outside. As the two employees were backing away and going outside, Santiago lunged toward them. Santiago continued forward and went straight out the door, between the two employees, and ran through the parking lot.
Dakota County charged Santiago with one count of terroristic threats and two counts of second-degree assault. After a court trial, the district court found Santiago guilty of two counts of second-degree assault. The district court found that "[d]efendant produced a knife and threatened both loss prevention officers with the knife"; that Santiago "lunged at the loss prevention officers with the knife extended"; and that "[b]oth officers feared they would be severely injured." The district court sentenced Santiago to imprisonment for 57 months on Count II and to a stayed sentence of 60 months on Count III, to be served consecutively to Count II. This appeal followed.
I. Sufficiency of the Evidence