Renville County District Court File No. 65-CR-17-176
Ellison, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and David
Torgelson, Renville County Attorney, Olivia, Minnesota; and
Scott A. Hersey, Special Assistant County Attorney, St. Paul,
Minnesota (for respondent)
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender,
Rochelle R. Winn, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul,
Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Reyes, Presiding Judge; Connolly,
Judge; and Larkin, Judge.
alternatives in Minnesota's first-degree
aggravated-robbery statute, Minn. Stat. § 609.245, subd.
1 (2016), are means of committing the offense, and those
alternatives are consistent with the fundamental fairness
required by due process. A jury therefore need not
unanimously agree regarding which of those means was used to
commit a first-degree aggravated robbery.
challenges his conviction of first-degree aggravated robbery,
arguing that the district court's jury instructions
regarding that offense violated his right to a unanimous
verdict. We affirm.
State of Minnesota charged appellant Adam Ryan Lagred with
first-degree aggravated robbery under Minn. Stat. §
609.245, subd. 1, second-degree assault under Minn. Stat.
§ 609.222, subd. 1 (2016), and threats of violence under
Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1 (2016). The case was
tried to a jury.
evidence at trial showed that Lagred and the victim, J.H.,
are acquaintances and had known each other for over a decade.
In 2013, Lagred and his then-girlfriend stayed at J.H.'s
house for one or two weeks. J.H. allowed Lagred's
girlfriend and her children, but not Lagred, to stay at his
house again in 2014, which angered Lagred. In November 2014,
J.H. confronted Lagred concerning Lagred's treatment of
his girlfriend and his refusal to return property to her.
15, 2017, J.H. visited an apartment complex to see a friend,
unaware that Lagred lived in the same complex. As J.H. was
walking to his car in the parking lot, he heard someone say,
"Come here you son of a b-tch." J.H. turned and saw
Lagred approaching him with a baseball bat. Lagred was out of
control and screaming. J.H. held up his hands and attempted
to calm Lagred. Lagred yelled at J.H., swung the bat at him
twice, and then hit him on the head with the bat. Next,
Lagred demanded that J.H. empty his pockets. J.H. had a small
pocket knife, which Lagred took. J.H. allowed Lagred to take
the knife because he was afraid of being hit with the bat
one of Lagred's neighbors, was walking through a nearby
parking lot and observed the altercation between J.H. and
Lagred. S.D. testified that Lagred was holding a baseball bat
and that Lagred and J.H. seemed to be arguing. S.D. stood
between J.H. and Lagred, and tried to calm Lagred. Lagred was
yelling and swinging the bat in the air. S.D. did not see
Lagred hit J.H. with the bat, but he saw Lagred take
J.H.'s pocket knife.
another one of Lagred's neighbors, observed the incident
from her living room window. M.P. testified that Lagred was
"behaving rather erratically" and approached J.H.
in "a confrontational manner." M.P. saw Lagred hit
J.H. with the baseball bat, but she did not see J.H. remove
anything from his pockets or give anything to Lagred.
the incident, J.H. drove to a police station and reported the
incident to a police officer. The police photographed a bump
on J.H.'s head, which had been caused by the blow from
the bat. J.H. spoke with his mother, a registered emergency
medical technician, about his injury, but he did not seek
other medical attention. J.H. suffered from headaches and
light-sensitivity for a month after the incident.
district court instructed the jury that it could find Lagred
guilty of first-degree aggravated robbery either because he
was armed with a dangerous weapon, or because he inflicted
bodily harm upon J.H., while committing a robbery. Lagred did
not object to the instruction or propose an alternative
instruction. Consistent with the district court's
instruction, the prosecutor argued, in closing, that although
the jury was required to reach a unanimous verdict on the
elements of aggravated robbery, it did not need to
unanimously decide whether Lagred was armed with a dangerous
weapon or inflicted bodily harm while committing the alleged
jury found Lagred guilty as charged. The district court
entered judgment of conviction on the aggravated-robbery
charge, granted Lagred's motion for a downward
dispositional departure, and stayed execution of a 68-month
prison term. Lagred appeals.
district court's jury instructions regarding first-degree
aggravated robbery violate Lagred's right to a unanimous
courts are entitled to considerable latitude when selecting
language for jury instructions, but the jury instructions
cannot materially misstate the law. State v.
Carridine, 812 N.W.2d 130, 144 (Minn. 2012). Appellate
courts review jury instructions as a whole to determine
whether the instructions accurately stated the law in a
manner that could be understood by the jury. State v.
Kelley, 855 N.W.2d 269, 274 (Minn. 2014).
an appellate court reviews a district court's jury
instructions for an abuse of discretion. State v.
Huber, 877 N.W.2d 519, 522 (Minn. 2016). But if a
defendant failed to object to the jury instructions at trial,
as is the case here, an appellate court reviews the
instructions for plain error. State v. Milton, 821
N.W.2d 789, 805 (Minn. 2012). "Under the plain-error
doctrine, the appellant must show that there was (1) an
error; (2) that is plain; and (3) the error affected
substantial rights." Huber, 877 N.W.2d at 522.
If the first three parts of the plain-error doctrine are
satisfied, the reviewing court corrects the error only if it
"seriously affects the fairness, integrity, or public
reputation of judicial proceedings." Id.
(quotation omitted). If the reviewing court concludes that
any part of the plain-error test is not satisfied, the court
need not consider the other parts. State v.
Brown, 815 N.W.2d 609, 620 (Minn. 2012).
was convicted of first-degree aggravated robbery under Minn.
Stat. § 609.245, subd. 1, which provides, "Whoever,
while committing a robbery, is armed with a dangerous weapon
or any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead the
victim to reasonably believe it to be a dangerous weapon, or
inflicts bodily harm upon another, is guilty of aggravated
robbery in the first degree . . . ." A robbery occurs if
having knowledge of not being entitled thereto, takes
personal property from the person or in the presence of
another and uses or threatens the imminent use of force
against any person to overcome the person's resistance or
powers of resistance to, or to compel acquiescence in, the
taking or carrying away of the property.
Minn. Stat. § 609.24 (2016).
The district court instructed the jury as follows:
The elements of Aggravated Robbery in the First Degree are:
First, [Lagred] took a small pocket knife from the person of
[J.H.]. Second, [Lagred] knew that he was not entitled to
take it. Third, [Lagred] used force to compel acquiescence in
the taking or carrying off of the pocket knife. Fourth,
[Lagred] was armed with a dangerous weapon or inflicted
bodily harm upon [J.H.]. . . . Fifth, [Lagred's] act
took place on or about May 15, 2017, in Renville ...