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State v. Townsend

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

March 11, 2019

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Savonte Maurice Townsend, Appellant.

          Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-17-15210

          Keith Ellison, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Jonathan P. Schmidt, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Julie Loftus Nelson, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge; Larkin, Judge; and Smith, Tracy M., Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         The phrase "carrying away" in Minnesota's simple-robbery statute, Minn. Stat. § 609.24 (2016), means the act of moving personal property from the location of the taking.

          OPINION

          LARKIN, JUDGE

         Appellant challenges her conviction of simple robbery, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the conviction. We affirm.

         FACTS

         Respondent State of Minnesota charged appellant Savonte Maurice Townsend with one count of simple robbery. The case was tried to the district court.

         The evidence at trial showed that on May 25, 2017, Townsend went to Trader Joe's in St. Louis Park, which is a business that includes a grocery store and a wine shop. W.S., a Trader Joe's employee in the wine shop, observed Townsend and another woman put bottles of liquor in their handbags. Based on this behavior, W.S. assumed that the women were shoplifting. As the women moved toward the common hallway between the Trader Joe's grocery store and wine shop with the liquor bottles, W.S. began to ask, "[A]re you going to pay for that?" Townsend said, "Run!" and the other woman ran into the hallway. W.S. grabbed the back of Townsend's blouse as she ran past him and into the hallway. Once Townsend was in the hallway, W.S. grabbed Townsend's handbag, which caused her to stop.

         W.S. held Townsend against a wall in the hallway with his forearm and attempted to take her handbag. W.S. testified that Townsend said, "I'm going to bite you, I'm going to bite you." Next, Townsend tried to bite W.S.'s arm. In response, W.S. let go of Townsend. At some point during the struggle, a bottle of liquor fell out of Townsend's handbag and broke on the floor. Townsend tried to leave but slipped and fell on the wet floor, at which point W.S. grabbed Townsend's handbag again. W.S. testified that at that point, he believed there were three bottles of liquor remaining in Townsend's bag.

         A physical struggle ensued between W.S. and Townsend as they moved out of the hallway and onto the sidewalk outside of Trader Joe's. Townsend yelled at W.S. to let her go, and W.S. responded, "Give me the booze first." W.S. testified that he took the remaining liquor bottles out of Townsend's bag and then released her. Townsend ran to a car and drove away.

         At trial, Townsend admitted that she went to Trader Joe's to steal alcohol. Townsend testified that she took only one bottle of liquor from the wine shop and then walked out of the shop. Townsend also testified that she did not know W.S. was ...


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