County Office of Appellate Courts
Reginald Lee Gail, Bayport, Minnesota, pro se. Lori Swanson,
Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Linda K. Jenny,
Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for
postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it
denied the appellant's petition for postconviction relief
without holding an evidentiary hearing.
and decided by the court without oral argument.
case involves an appeal from a postconviction court's
summary denial of Reginald Lee Gail's second petition for
postconviction relief. Because Minn. Stat. § 590.04,
subd. 3 (2016), bars Gail's claims, we affirm the
postconviction court's decision.
2004, Gail shot and killed Yvain Braziel during a drug
deal. Following a trial, a jury found
Gail guilty of first-degree murder while committing a felony
involving the unlawful sale of a controlled substance, and
the district court sentenced him to life imprisonment with
the possibility of release after serving a minimum of 30
years in prison. Gail I, 713 N.W.2d at 857; Minn.
Stat. § 609.185(a)(3) (2016); see Minn. Stat.
§ 244.05, subds. 4-5 (2004).
direct appeal, Gail raised seven issues, including a claim
that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction
because he did not actually sell any drugs. In affirming
Gail's conviction, we concluded in relevant part that
"[t]he evidence provide[d] ample support for the
conclusion that . . . the shooting happened as part of a drug
deal." Gail I, 713 N.W.2d at 862. In
particular, we relied on evidence that Braziel had arranged
to purchase $250 worth of cocaine from Gail, Gail had told
Braziel the price of the cocaine over the telephone, and
Braziel had argued with Gail during the transaction over the
quantity of cocaine provided. Id. at 862-63.
filed his first petition for postconviction relief in 2006.
He raised 13 claims, including an argument that the evidence
was insufficient to support his conviction. Gail v.
State (Gail II), 732 N.W.2d 243, 245-46 (Minn.
2007). The postconviction court denied the petition without
holding an evidentiary hearing. Id. at 245. With
respect to Gail's sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim, the
court applied the procedural bar from State v.
Knaffla, based on its finding that the claim was
"identical or substantially similar to the claim Gail
pursued on direct appeal." Gail II, 732 N.W.2d
at 246 (citing State v. Knaffla, 309 Minn. 246, 252,
243 N.W.2d 737, 741 (1976) ("[W]here direct appeal has
once been taken, all matters raised therein, and all claims
known but not raised, will not be considered upon a
subsequent petition for postconviction relief.")). On
appeal, we also concluded that the Knaffla rule
barred Gail's sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim.
Id. at 247.
February 4, 2016, Gail filed his second petition for
postconviction relief, which was accompanied by a request for
an evidentiary hearing. In it, he again argued that there was
insufficient evidence to support his conviction. He also
alleged that his petition was not frivolous and should be
considered in the interests of justice. In his brief, Gail
divides his claim into three components: (1) the evidence
established only that Gail was purchasing controlled
substances, not selling them; (2) the applicable murder
statute is unambiguous and required the State to prove that