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Brown v. State

Supreme Court of Minnesota

May 24, 2017

Jerrell Michael Brown, Appellant,
v.
State of Minnesota, Respondent.

         Hennepin County Office of Appellate Courts

          Jerrell Michael Brown, Stillwater, Minnesota, pro se.

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Brittany D. Lawonn, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondent.

         SYLLABUS

         1. The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it denied appellant's witness-recantation claim under the Larrison standard.

         2. The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it denied appellant's claim that the State had engaged in prosecutorial misconduct.

         3. The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it denied appellant's untimely filed postconviction claim that the State knowingly used false evidence.

         4. The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it denied appellant's untimely filed postconviction claim that a State witness testified falsely at trial.

         5. The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it denied appellant's untimely filed postconviction claims that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel and appellate counsel.

         Affirmed.

         Considered and decided by the court without oral argument.

          OPINION

          LILLEHAUG, Justice.

         On March 8, 2010, a jury found appellant Jerrell Michael Brown guilty of first-degree murder committed for the benefit of a gang. We affirmed Brown's conviction on direct appeal, as well as the postconviction court's denial of his first petition for postconviction relief. State v. Brown, 815 N.W.2d 609 (Minn. 2012). The day before the postconviction statute of limitations expired (December 9, 2014), he filed his second petition. Over the next six months, he filed various addenda and attachments to his second petition. Brown also filed a third petition on October 23, 2015, wherein he raised additional claims and moved for discovery. By motion, Brown also requested re-testing of certain trial evidence. The postconviction court denied both petitions and Brown's other requests without an evidentiary hearing, concluding that his claims were each untimely filed or procedurally barred, or failed on the merits. We affirm.

         FACTS

         On August 29, 2008, Darius Miller was fatally shot outside a nightclub in downtown Minneapolis. After a police investigation, the State presented evidence against Brown to a grand jury, which indicted Brown on four counts of murder, all on an accomplice-liability theory: (1) first-degree murder, Minn. Stat. §§ 609.05, subd. 1 (2016), 609.185(a)(1) (2016); (2) first-degree murder committed for the benefit of a gang, Minn. Stat. §§ 609.05, subd. 1, 609.185(a)(1), 609.229, subd. 2 (2016); (3) second-degree intentional murder, Minn. Stat. §§ 609.05, subd. 1, 609.19, subd. 1(1) (2016); and (4) second-degree intentional murder committed for the benefit of a gang, Minn. Stat. §§ 609.05, subd. 1, 609.19, subd. 1(1), 609.229, subd. 2.

         The case went to trial. The State presented evidence that a bullet casing found next to Miller was fired from the same firearm that Brown admitted to firing in connection with a June 2008 reckless-discharge conviction. The State also presented surveillance video from the nightclubs surrounding the murder scene, eyewitness testimony describing the shooter (matching Brown), testimony from two of Brown's fellow inmates at Hennepin County Jail that Brown had confessed to the murder, and more. In total, the State presented testimony from twenty-five witnesses: six Minneapolis Police Department officers, eight civilian eyewitnesses, four witnesses related to the 2008 reckless-discharge conviction, two inmates, two forensic experts, a medical examiner, a jail records custodian, and Miller's mother.

         A jury found Brown guilty of all four counts of murder. The trial court convicted Brown of first-degree murder committed for the benefit of a gang.

         Brown filed a direct appeal. He also filed his first petition for postconviction relief, which was denied, appealed, and consolidated by this court with his direct appeal. We affirmed Brown's conviction on direct appeal, as well as the postconviction court's denial of his first petition for postconviction relief. Brown, 815 N.W.2d at 622. Brown then filed a petition with the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, which was denied on December 10, 2012.

         On December 9, 2014, Brown filed his second petition for postconviction relief. In that petition, Brown alleged that D.M.-a State witness who testified at trial that Brown confessed to the crime while the two were in Hennepin County Jail-had recanted.

         On December 26, 2014, a Minneapolis Police Sergeant visited D.M. at the Faribault Correctional Facility to discuss the alleged recantation. D.M. explained to the sergeant that Brown had written multiple letters threatening D.M. if he did not recant. D.M. also said that Brown's postconviction attorney had contacted D.M. and visited him in prison three times, and had coerced D.M. to provide written answers to a questionnaire that would help exonerate Brown. D.M. told the sergeant that he answered all of the questions as Brown's attorney instructed because D.M. was told that his answers were not legally binding. D.M. then told the sergeant that his trial testimony was the truth and signed a notarized affidavit to that effect.

         The sergeant informed D.M. that the State had moved to vacate several plea agreements between D.M. and the State-in cases unrelated to the events surrounding Brown's case-wherein D.M. had promised to provide truthful testimony at Brown's trial. The sergeant told D.M. that the whole incident would hopefully be moot because D.M. ...


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