Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Adam
Lozeau, Assistant State Public Defender, Saint Paul,
Minnesota, for appellant.
Swanson, Attorney General, Matthew Frank, Assistant Attorney
General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and
Middendorf, Morrison County Attorney, Little Falls,
Minnesota, for respondent.
Chutich, J. Concurring, Gildea, C.J. Took no part, Thissen,
the area surrounding school property is organized in a
city-block system, the "school zone," as defined by
Minnesota Statutes section 152.01, subdivision 14a(2) (2016),
includes the entire area of a city block that is located
diagonal to school property.
evidence was sufficient to support appellant's conviction
for second-degree sale of a controlled substance in a school
Edward John LaPenotiere, Jr., was charged with second-degree
sale of a controlled substance for selling heroin and Vicodin
in a "school zone." Under Minnesota Statutes
section 152.01, subdivision 14a(2) (2016), a "school
zone" includes "the area surrounding school
property . . . to a distance of 300 feet or one city block,
whichever distance is greater, beyond the school
property." At trial, the State introduced a map and
testimony demonstrating that the drug sale had occurred at
LaPenotiere's home, which is located on a city block that
is diagonal, or kitty-corner, to school property. The jury
found LaPenotiere guilty as charged. LaPenotiere subsequently
filed a petition for postconviction relief, arguing that the
State had failed to prove that the sale occurred within 300
feet of school property. The postconviction court denied the
petition, and the court of appeals affirmed. Because a
"school zone" includes the entire area of a city
block that is kitty-corner to school property, when the land
surrounding school property is organized in a city-block
system, we affirm.
State of Minnesota charged LaPenotiere in 2013 with
second-degree sale of a controlled substance in a school
zone. See Minn. Stat. § 152.022, subd. 1(6)(i)
(2012) (defining a second-degree offense based on the sale of
certain controlled substances "in a school zone").
Minnesota law defines "school zone," in pertinent
part, as "(1) any property owned, leased, or controlled
by a school district . . . [and] (2) the area surrounding
school property as described in clause (1) to a distance of
300 feet or one city block, whichever distance is greater,
beyond the school property." Minn. Stat. § 152.01,
subd. 14a (1)-(2) (2016).
trial, the State presented evidence that LaPenotiere sold
heroin and Vicodin out of his home and that LaPenotiere's
home was within a school zone. The location of the Little
Falls school property and LaPenotiere's home is depicted
in Diagram 1 below.
home is located on the northeast corner of a rectangular city
block; his block, in turn, is kitty-corner from school
property in the northwest direction.
State offered evidence to establish the location of the
school and the site of the sale. The State's evidence
included an aerial satellite map, which was marked Exhibit 4,
and testimony from a police deputy who identified Exhibit 4
as "a map of the Little Falls school area" and
"a fair and accurate representation of where the school
is and where the defendant's home is." Given the
evidence showing that LaPenotiere's home was on a city
block kitty-corner to the school property, the State did not
present any evidence about whether the home was within 300
feet of the school property.
jury found LaPenotiere guilty of selling a controlled
substance in a school zone, and the court imposed a
presumptive sentence. LaPenotiere did not file a direct appeal.
2016, LaPenotiere filed a timely petition for postconviction
relief, claiming that the State had failed to prove that the
drug sale occurred in a school zone. LaPenotiere argued that
the evidence showing that his block was kitty-corner to
school property was insufficient because the one-city-block
method of proving the school-zone element applies only to
blocks with a side facing the school property. According to
LaPenotiere, this result is compelled by our decision in
State v. Carufel, 783 N.W.2d 539 (Minn. 2010).
Carufel, the issue before us was whether the drug
sale had occurred within a "park zone," defined by
statute to include "the area within 300 feet or one city
block, whichever distance is greater, of the park
boundary." 783 N.W.2d at 543 (quoting Minn. Stat. §
152.01, subd. 12a (2008)). The drug sale occurred in the
defendant's house, which was located on a block with a
side facing a public park. Id. at 541. In affirming the
defendant's conviction, we held that "when the land
surrounding a public park is an area divided into rectangular
blocks bounded by city streets on all four sides, the phrase
'the area within . . . one city block . . . of the park
boundary'" unambiguously includes "the entire
area of a block that is directly adjacent to the park."
Id. at 545. We acknowledged that the statutory
phrase "one city block" could be read "to mean
both a distance measurement from the park, and . . . the
entire area of that city block." Id. at 544
n.2. Because the defendant's house fell "both within
the distance measurement of one city block and within the
area measurement of a city block," our discussion of the
distance-versus-area question was limited. Id. In a
concurrence, Justice Paul Anderson discussed this
distance-versus-area question, explaining that it might
impact the issue of "whether a point located on [a
kitty-corner block was] within the park zone."
Id. at 549 (Anderson, Paul H., J., concurring).
reads our analysis in Carufel as limiting the term
"one city block," as used in the statutory
definition of a park zone, to include blocks with a side
facing the park boundary and to exclude kitty-corner blocks.
According to LaPenotiere, the same limitation should be
placed on the term "one city block" in the
statutory definition of a school zone because the same term
was at issue in Carufel. LaPenotiere therefore
argued to the postconviction court that when a drug sale
occurs on a block without a side facing the school property
(e.g., a kitty-corner block), the State must prove that the
sale occurred within 300 feet of the school property. Because
the record did not contain any evidence that
LaPenotiere's home was within 300 feet of the school
property, he claimed that the State had presented
insufficient evidence to support his conviction.
postconviction court denied LaPenotiere's petition,
explaining that LaPenotiere misread our holding in
Carufel. According to the postconviction court, the
phrase "directly adjacent" actually includes
kitty-corner blocks, so the entire area of LaPenotiere's
block is included in the school zone.
appeal, LaPenotiere renewed these same arguments. The court
of appeals affirmed. Lapenotiere v. State, 902
N.W.2d 464, 467 (Minn.App. 2017). Unlike the postconviction
court, however, the court of appeals distinguished between
kitty-corner blocks and blocks that are "directly
adjacent" to school property.Id. at 466-67.
Ultimately, the court rejected LaPenotiere's argument, as
depicted in the following diagram, that Carufel
limited the zone created by the term "one city