of Appellate Courts Ramsey County
Swanson, Minnesota Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota,
and John J. Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Thomas R. Ragatz,
Assistant Ramsey County Attorney, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender,
Jennifer Workman Jesness, Assistant State Public Defender,
Saint Paul, Minnesota, for appellant.
district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to
excuse a juror who was not actually biased.
district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding
reverse-Spreigl evidence on the ground that the
defendant did not show by clear and convincing evidence that
a third party was involved in a previous shooting.
Daryl Negel Curtis was convicted in Ramsey County District
Court of first-degree premeditated murder for the shooting
death of Renaldo McDaniel. On direct appeal, Curtis argues
that the district court abused its discretion when it
declined to excuse a juror who, after the trial began,
realized that she knew a witness and had been exposed to news
coverage of the shooting. Curtis also argues that the
district court abused its discretion by excluding
reverse-Spreigl alternative-perpetrator evidence.
Because we conclude that the district court did not abuse its
discretion in either respect, we affirm Curtis's
around 8 p.m. on June 12, 2016, McDaniel was shot and killed
in the parking lot of an auto parts store in Saint Paul.
Immediately before McDaniel was shot, he was standing next to
his cousin, Z.M., and looking under the hood of a car. At
trial, Z.M. testified that she did not see the shooter's
face, but did see a light-skinned black man wearing a red
shirt running away from the scene. Two store employees also
saw a light-skinned black man in a red shirt at, and running
away from, the scene. When shown a photograph of Curtis, one
of the clerks identified him as the shooter.
Curtis's girlfriend, testified that she, Curtis, and an
acquaintance, A.J.,  had been driving around Saint Paul on the
night of McDaniel's death. T.S. testified that they drove
to the auto parts store with the intent of getting a part for
Curtis's car. They spotted McDaniel looking under the
hood of a car in the parking lot, and Curtis told A.J. to
keep driving. Curtis texted the license plate number of the
car to T.S. at 7:53 p.m. A.J. drove around the block. Curtis
got out of the car, taking with him a gun from A.J.'s
purse. Curtis called A.J. moments later, asking to be picked
up. When he entered the car, Curtis told A.J. that he
"shot the guy." As confirmed by surveillance video
from a nearby store, Curtis was wearing a red shirt.
jury returned verdicts of guilty against Curtis on one count
of first-degree premeditated murder and one count of
second-degree murder. The district court convicted Curtis of
now to the facts underlying Curtis's two primary
arguments, concerning a juror and reverse-Spreigl
evidence. Prior to the trial, each prospective juror
completed a juror questionnaire that included a list of 48
trial witnesses and inquired about media exposure related to
the case. One member of the jury panel, Juror 1, responded
that she was not acquainted with any of the witnesses and had
never heard of the case or seen any media coverage of it.
Upon hearing opening statements, Juror 1 realized that she
knew witness Z.M. and had heard about the shooting on the
news. Juror 1 immediately brought her realization to the
court questioned Juror 1 about the extent of her acquaintance
with Z.M. Juror 1 said that she believed that she had
attended high school with Z.M., but that they were not
friends, did not take classes together, did not spend time
together outside of ...