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State v. Webster

Supreme Court of Minnesota

May 10, 2017

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Montrell Maurice Webster, Appellant.

         Hennepin County Office of Appellate Courts

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Cheri A. Townsend, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondent.

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Michael W. Kunkel, Assistant State Public Defender, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for appellant.

         SYLLABUS

         1. The State presented evidence sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant killed the victim while attempting to commit an aggravated robbery.

         2. The district court did not commit plain error in instructing the jury on the requirements of first-degree felony murder.

         Affirmed.

          OPINION

          McKEIG, Justice.

         Montrell Maurice Webster was convicted of first-degree felony murder, Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(3) (2016), for the killing of Eulalio Gonzalez-Sanchez. On appeal, Webster challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and the district court's jury instructions. We affirm.

         FACTS

         On September 21, 2014, Gonzalez-Sanchez was discovered shot to death on a sidewalk in northeast Minneapolis. After a police investigation, a grand jury indicted Webster for first-degree felony murder on an accomplice-liability theory. See Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(3); Minn. Stat. § 609.05 (2016). Webster pleaded not guilty and demanded a jury trial.

         At trial, the State presented the following evidence. At 6:24 a.m. on September 21, 2014, Gonzalez-Sanchez was texting with his girlfriend as he walked home. At 6:25 a.m., L.C. and S.H. were awakened by the sound of three gunshots outside of their apartment. When L.C. looked outside, he saw a man's body lying on the sidewalk and immediately called 911. Police arrived to find Gonzalez-Sanchez, who had died from three gunshot wounds. Gonzalez-Sanchez's wallet was lying on the ground and his cell phone was missing. Surveillance video recorded at 6:29 a.m. at a nearby business showed a car driving away from the location where police found Gonzalez-Sanchez.

         Two weeks later, the police stopped Jeremiah Blackwell while he was driving a car that appeared similar to the one in the video. During a search of the car, police discovered a .40-caliber handgun that, based on forensic testing, was consistent with the bullets that killed Gonzalez-Sanchez and the discharged casings recovered from the scene of the killing. Location data supplied by Blackwell's cell-phone usage and cell-tower records indicated that his phone was near the location of the murder in the early morning hours of September 21, 2014.

         Blackwell directed police to Webster. Webster initially denied involvement in the killing. But he admitted that he had handled Blackwell's .40-caliber handgun 2 days before the murder. Webster claimed he could not ...


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