Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-11-21341
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Lee W. Barry, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)
Cathryn Middlebrook, Interim Chief Appellate Public Defender, Jennifer Workman Jesness, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Schellhas, Presiding Judge; Hudson, Judge; and Worke, Judge.
On appeal from her convictions of first-degree controlled substance crime and child endangerment, appellant argues that the district court erred by (1) imposing a $300, 000 fine without considering whether it would pose an undue hardship and (2) admitting evidence of uncharged crimes that constituted impermissible extrinsic character evidence. Appellant also argues that there was insufficient evidence to support the convictions of child endangerment. We affirm.
On July 13, 2011, Minneapolis police executed a search warrant at appellant Zandria Louise Riser's apartment, acting on information that an individual was selling narcotics at the address. At the time, appellant was in the apartment with her twelve-year-old son, along with an acquaintance, R.T., and his two-year-old daughter. In the living room, police found a loaded semi-automatic .45 caliber handgun under a pillow on a mattress and seventeen baggies of crack cocaine inside a broom. Police discovered 34.5 grams of crack cocaine and an amount of heroin in a second broom in a bedroom that also contained children's toys. A coat in the apartment contained $685 in cash. Suspected ecstasy was found in a prescription bottle in a closet, and a digital scale and baggie of marijuana were found in the kitchen.
During the search, appellant was given a Miranda warning and interviewed. Appellant admitted to possessing all of the drugs and the firearm and selling crack cocaine out of the apartment to help pay bills. She stated that R.T. had nothing to do with the drug sales. Appellant claimed that she made approximately $200 to $300 per week selling crack cocaine. She also admitted that she used marijuana and ecstasy.
At trial, a jury found appellant guilty of four counts: (1) first-degree possession of a controlled substance (crack cocaine) while in possession of a firearm in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 152.021, subd. 2(a)(1) (Supp. 2011), 609.11 (2010); (2) first-degree sale of a controlled substance (crack cocaine) while in possession of a firearm in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 152.021, subd. 1(1), 609.11 (2010); (3) endangerment of a child (exposure to the sale or possession of a controlled substance) in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.378, subd. 1(b)(2) (2010); and (4) endangerment of a child (exposure to a firearm) in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.378, subd. 1(c) (2010).
At sentencing, the district court denied appellant's motion for a downward dispositional and durational departure. The court sentenced appellant to 86 months' incarceration for the conviction of first-degree sale of a controlled substance (crack cocaine) while in possession of a firearm, the presumptive sentence under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines, and imposed a fine of $300, 000 pursuant to Minn. Stat. §§ 152.021, subd. 3(a), 609.101, subd. 3(a) (2010). The district court also imposed a concurrent sentence for the conviction of child endangerment (exposure to sale or possession of controlled substance), of 365 days incarceration with a fine of $3, 000. This appeal follows.