State v. Hall, A05-1534.

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Citation722 N.W.2d 472
Docket NumberNo. A05-1534.,A05-1534.
PartiesSTATE of Minnesota, Respondent, v. Andre Francis HALL, Appellant.
Decision Date12 October 2006
722 N.W.2d 472
STATE of Minnesota, Respondent,
Andre Francis HALL, Appellant.
No. A05-1534.
Supreme Court of Minnesota.
October 12, 2006.

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John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Rochelle R. Winn, Assistant State Public Defender, Minneapolis, MN, for Appellant.

Mike Hatch, Attorney General, St. Paul, MN, Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael Richardson, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, MN, for Respondent.

Heard, considered, and decided by the court en banc.


MEYER, Justice.

Appellant Andre Francis Hall appeals his conviction for the October 5, 2004, shooting death of Dennis Winfield.1 A Hennepin County jury found Hall guilty of first-degree murder in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(1) (2004), second-degree murder in violation of Minn.Stat. § 609.19, subd. 1(1) (2004), and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm in violation of Minn.Stat. § 624.713, subds. 1(b), 2(b) (2004). The trial court entered judgment of conviction on first-degree murder and sentenced Hall to the mandatory term of life in prison. Hall raises four claims on appeal: (1) the trial court erred when it gave a jury instruction on transferred intent; (2) the transferred intent instruction constituted an improper constructive amendment of the indictment; (3) the trial court abused its discretion when it denied two motions relating to juror bias; and (4) he was denied the right to a public trial when the trial court imposed a blanket exclusion of children from the courtroom.2

The facts giving rise to this appeal are as follows. C.S. and her younger sister, P.S., were temporarily residing with their "god sister," A.M., at A.M.'s apartment in Brooklyn Center. On the evening of October 4, 2004, C.S. rode a bus from downtown Minneapolis to Brooklyn Center. Hall, who was A.M.'s ex-boyfriend, was also on the bus. While on the bus, C.S. saw Hall drinking alcohol and overheard Hall trying to sell a gun to a group of men. C.S. and Hall exited the bus at the same

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bus stop and both walked to A.M.'s apartment. When Hall and C.S. arrived, A.M., P.S., and three men were present in the apartment. A.M. noticed that Hall had a gun and asked Hall to put it out of sight because she was "terrified of guns." Hall put the gun on top of an entertainment center. Shortly thereafter, A.M. and Hall walked to a Citgo gas station, approximately one and one-half blocks from the apartment. Hall did not bring the gun to the Citgo station.

Winfield was the clerk on duty at the Citgo station. He was working in the cashier's booth, which was protected by bulletproof glass. M.G., a regular patron at the station, was also present. While Hall and A.M. were collecting items to purchase, Hall turned to M.G. and allegedly said either, "F* * *ot, quit looking at my girlfriend," or "Why are you looking at my girl?" At that point, an argument ensued between Winfield and Hall. A.M. asked Hall to leave, but Hall refused, so A.M. returned to her apartment alone.

M.G. testified that after A.M. left, Hall said to Winfield, "This bulletproof glass isn't [going] to save you." Hall also asked Winfield to go outside so they could fight. At some point during the argument, Winfield left the cashier's booth, locked the door to the gas station, and demanded that Hall return the merchandise he was holding before allowing Hall to leave. Hall returned the merchandise, and Winfield unlocked the door and allowed Hall to leave.

After leaving, Hall got into a fight with a number of unidentified men just outside the station. Winfield walked outside and told the men that if they did not break up the fight he would call the police, at which point the men stopped fighting and left the area.

Hall returned to A.M.'s apartment with a bloody face and told A.M. and C.S. that he "got jumped" by three men, and he said words to the effect that he was "going to kill them." Hall also threw two telephones against the wall and eventually left the apartment, taking the gun with him.

Because she did not know where Hall was going, A.M. asked C.S. to go looking for him. C.S. ran to the Citgo station, but Hall was not there. She told Winfield that he should be careful because Hall had left the apartment and had a gun. Winfield called 911 to report the incident. That call was received at 2:46 a.m.

Later, M.G. helped Winfield take some garbage outside to the Citgo station's dumpster. M.G. testified that, while doing so, he saw Hall walk across the street to the area near the dumpster where he and Winfield were, at which point Hall pulled out a gun and shot Winfield at least four times from point blank range. According to M.G., when Hall finished shooting, Hall turned and ran from the scene, and M.G. went into the station and called 911. M.G.'s 911 call was received at 3:14 a.m. Winfield died of multiple gunshot wounds.

After the shooting, Hall returned to A.M.'s apartment, where he told P.S. and C.S., "I got that ni* * *r," or "I capped that ni* * *r," or "I killed that ni* * *r." Hall asked C.S. to "get rid of" the gun, but she was unable to do so before the police arrived and arrested Hall. Hall was able, however, to have the gun wiped off and then hidden before he was arrested. He was also able to change his clothes. During a search of the apartment after Hall's arrest, the police found a .40 caliber gun, which forensic experts subsequently determined was the gun used to kill Winfield.

At trial, the state's primary theory of the case was that Hall premeditated Winfield's murder because Hall was angry about the altercation with Winfield. As an alternative argument, the state advanced a

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transferred intent theory, arguing that if Hall left the apartment with the intent to kill the unidentified men, then he could be found guilty of the premeditated murder of Winfield. At the end of the trial, the judge instructed the jury that the premeditation element could be found if Hall had the intent to cause the death of another. During trial, Hall conceded that he was guilty of the firearm possession and second-degree murder charges, but maintained that Winfield's murder was not premeditated.

We are asked to determine whether the trial court erred when it instructed the jury on transferred intent. At trial, Hall elicited testimony from A.M. that when Hall returned to A.M.'s apartment from the Citgo station the first time, he was angry about the fight he had been in with the unidentified men. On cross-examination, the state elicited similar testimony that when Hall returned to A.M.'s apartment he was upset about the fight with the unidentified men, but was not angry about his verbal altercation with Winfield. Hall elicited this testimony to show that he did not premeditate Winfield's murder. In response to this testimony, the state requested that the jury be given a transferred intent instruction. The trial court gave the following instruction on the elements of first-degree murder:

The elements of murder in the first degree are, first, the death of Dennis Lamont Winfield, Jr. must be proven. Second, the Defendant caused the death of Dennis Lamont Winfield, Jr. Third, the Defendant acted with premeditation and with the intent to kill Dennis Lamont Winfield, Jr. or another person.

Premeditation means that the Defendant considered, planned, prepared for, or determined to commit the act before the Defendant committed it. Premeditation, being a process of the mind, is wholly subjective and, hence, not susceptible to proof by direct evidence. It may be inferred from all the circumstances surrounding the event. It is not necessary that premeditation exist for any specific length of time. A premeditated decision to kill may be reached in a short period of time. However, a[n] unconsidered or rash impulse, even though it includes an intent to kill, is not premeditated.

In order to have had an intent to kill, the Defendant must have acted with the purpose of causing death, or the Defendant must have believed that the act would have that result.

If the Defendant acted with premeditation and with the intent to cause the death of another, the element of premeditation and intent to kill is satisfied, even though the Defendant did not intend to kill Dennis Lamont Winfield, Jr.

Fourth, the Defendant's act took place on or about October 5, 2004 in Hennepin County.

(Emphasis added.) Hall objected to the inclusion of that part of the instruction dealing with transferred intent, which reads, "If the Defendant acted with premeditation and with the intent to cause the death of another, the element of premeditation and intent to kill is satisfied, even though the Defendant did not intend to kill Dennis Lamont Winfield, Jr."

On appeal, Hall argues that the transferred intent instruction was inappropriate because (1) transferred intent only applies if the perpetrator intends to commit a crime against one person and then actually commits the crime against an unintended victim; and (2) there was no evidence that Hall premeditated or intended the murder of the unidentified men with whom he had fought outside the Citgo station. The state argues that there was sufficient evidence

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to support a transferred intent instruction based on A.M.'s testimony, from which the inference could be drawn that Hall intended and premeditated the murder of one or more of the unidentified men.

"The decision to give a requested jury instruction lies in the discretion of the trial court and will not be reversed absent an abuse of that discretion." State v. Palubicki, 700 N.W.2d 476, 487 (Minn.2005). A party is entitled to an instruction if the evidence produced at trial supports the instruction. State v. Richardson, 393 N.W.2d 657, 665 (Minn.1986). A mistaken jury instruction does not require a new trial if the error was harmless. State v. Kuhnau, 622 N.W.2d 552, 558 (Minn.2001). An erroneous jury instruction is harmless only if it can be...

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