of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts
Ellison, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Mark S.
Rubin, St. Louis County Attorney, Victoria D. Wanta, Jessica
G. Foschi, Assistant County Attorneys, for respondent.
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Chang
Y. Lau, Assistant State Public Defender, Saint Paul,
Minnesota, for appellant.
court of appeals erred by applying a factual-relationship
standard, rather than a direct-causation standard, when
considering whether fire damage to real property was a result
of appellant's offense.
Reversed and remanded.
in northern Minnesota was burglarized and then destroyed in a
fire. Trail camera pictures showed the truck of appellant
Colton Tyler Boettcher at the scene, and the property
owner's generator was later found in his truck. Boettcher
was charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree
arson. A jury found Boettcher guilty of burglary but did not
reach a verdict on the arson charge. The State declined to
retry Boettcher for arson. After determining that the arson
was factually related to the burglary, the district court
ordered Boettcher to pay restitution for the destruction of
the cabin. The court of appeals affirmed. Because we conclude
that the court of appeals erred by applying a
factual-relationship standard, we reverse and remand to the
court of appeals for reconsideration under the
2010, when Z.D. returned from military service in Iraq, he
built a cabin near Culver. The cabin was built on weekends,
over a number of years, by Z.D. and his father. Z.D. and his
family vacationed there frequently. In November 2014, Z.D.
closed the cabin for the winter. When Z.D. returned the
following spring, the cabin was an "ash pile." Z.D.
shared with law enforcement his pictures from two
motion-detection trail cameras that he had set up on the
property. These cameras provided a series of photographs that
showed individuals entering onto his land, carrying away
property, and leaving the cabin in flames.
a law enforcement investigation, the State charged Boettcher
with several offenses involving Z.D.'s cabin, including
first-degree arson, Minn. Stat. § 609.561, subd. 1
(2018), and second-degree burglary, Minn. Stat. §
609.582, subd. 2(a)(1) (2018). Boettcher pleaded not guilty
and demanded a jury trial.
describing their investigation, law enforcement officers
testified as follows. The trail camera pictures implicated
Boettcher and his friends Tyler Klennert and Brody Dunham in
several ways. Pictures from the first trail camera captured
images of three distinct individuals, and the timestamp on
the pictures was December 13, 2014, the same date of four
known cabin burglaries committed by Boettcher, Klennert, and
Dunham. Moreover, pictures from the second trail camera
captured images of a distinctive headlight pattern that
closely resembled the headlights of Boettcher's truck.
law enforcement officers spoke with Klennert about the
destruction of Z.D.'s cabin, he provided the officers
misleading information about Boettcher's involvement,
claiming that he did not remember a burglary with an
arson. After the officers told Klennert that they
had found an item from Z.D.'s property in the back of
Boettcher's truck, Klennert admitted that Boettcher had
started the fire. More specifically, Klennert said that all
three of them were inside the cabin. As he was "grabbing
stuff," Klennert noticed that it was starting to get
smoky, and he saw Boettcher lighting things in the room on
fire. He said that "things were already burning and so .
. . he grabbed a few things and got out of there" and
that "Brody got out of there too and ultimately so did
Colton." Like Klennert, Dunham provided officers
misleading information about Boettcher's involvement in
the destruction of Z.D.'s cabin.
testified to the following facts at trial. Dunham cut the
lock on a gate to get onto the Z.D. property. All three then
got out of the truck, and all three went into the cabin. A
television, generator, DVDs, and ammunition were taken from
the cabin before it was destroyed. When asked about
specifics, Klennert testified, "I really don't
remember much of any of it honestly . . . ." After
refreshing his recollection with the transcript of his plea
hearing, Klennert then testified that Boettcher started the
fire. On cross-examination, although Klennert testified that
"something like a lighter or matches" were used to
light the fire, he also testified, "I don't know how
to explain it exactly." Klennert testified that the
three left quickly after the fire was started. On redirect,
Klennert elaborated further: "[T]he more we talk about
this, the more it has been coming back to me . . . . I do
remember him [Boettcher] starting the fire, yes." He