State v. Matusovic, A21-0975

CourtCourt of Appeals of Minnesota
Writing for the CourtFRISCH, JUDGE
PartiesState of Minnesota, Respondent, v. Carl Joseph Matusovic, Appellant.
Decision Date13 June 2022
Docket NumberA21-0975

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.

Carl Joseph Matusovic, Appellant.

No. A21-0975

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

June 13, 2022


This opinion is nonprecedential except as provided by Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 136.01, subd. 1(c).

Goodhue County District Court File No. 25-CR-19-2706

Keith Ellison, Attorney General, Peter Magnuson, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Stephen F. O'Keefe, Goodhue County Attorney, Red Wing, Minnesota (for respondent)

Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Abigail H. Rankin, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Reilly, Presiding Judge; Worke, Judge; and Frisch, Judge.

FRISCH, JUDGE

Appellant argues that his conviction for intentionally providing a false address on a sex-offender registration form should be overturned because the evidence was insufficient

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to support his conviction, a Blakely violation occurred, and his speedy-trial right was violated. We affirm.

FACTS

In October 2019, respondent State of Minnesota charged appellant Carl Joseph Matusovic with failing to register as a predatory offender or intentionally providing false information to a "corrections agent, law enforcement authority, or the bureau" in violation of Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 5(a) (2016).[1] Matusovic, a repeat sex offender who has been required to register since 1993, had been released in June 2018 from the Goodhue County jail in Red Wing on an unrelated charge. The state alleged that Matusovic provided a false address on a sex-offender registration form prior to his release from the jail.

Matusovic received a trial date of January 13, 2020. On January 13, Matusovic requested a continuance to conduct more discovery. Trial was rescheduled for February 18. On February 10, Matusovic fired his public defender and asked for trial to be delayed again so he could prepare. On February 26, Matusovic waived his right to a speedy trial. Although his trial was scheduled for May 11, the COVID-19 pandemic caused his trial date to be moved to September. During this time, he again demanded a speedy trial. However, as the trial approached, Matusovic requested and was appointed a new public defender to represent him, and he again waived his speedy-trial demand. His trial was scheduled for December.

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On December 14, Matusovic again demanded a speedy trial. Because COVID-19 restrictions prevented the commencement of trial on December 14, Matusovic consented to a new trial date of February 8, 2021. On January 21, 2021, the chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court instituted a moratorium on jury trials until March 15, 2021, unless an exception was requested and granted. See Order Governing Continuing Operations of the Minnesota Judicial Branch, ADM20-8001, at 2 (Minn. Jan. 21, 2020) (January jury-moratorium order). Matusovic's trial was continued to March 29, 2021, at which time a court trial occurred.

The following facts were elicited at trial. A Goodhue County detention deputy testified that she assisted Matusovic with filling out a BCA change-of-information form, which he was required to complete before his discharge from the jail. The deputy asked Matusovic for information and then recorded the information provided by Matusovic on the form. She asked Matusovic to identify his primary address for registration purposes, and Matusovic provided a Rosemount address which the deputy then recorded on the form. The deputy completed the BCA form with information provided by Matusovic, printed the form, and then provided the form to Matusovic to verify the information and sign in the appropriate area, which he did. The deputy testified that Matusovic did not appear to be confused about the form.

Matusovic also testified at trial. He admitted that he never lived at the address he provided on the form. He explained that he provided the Rosemount address as a mailing address, not a primary address, and he knew he would be homeless when he was released from the jail. He testified that he thought he was providing an address to allow probation

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to contact him. He also testified that he did not intend to register at that address as a sex offender because he did not want to put his friend who lived at the address "through that." He testified that he was both unaware of and confused about the process of registering as homeless.

Matusovic's friend who lived at the Rosemount address testified that she had not spoken with Matusovic in a long time. A police officer testified that Matusovic's friend was surprised that he listed her address on the form.

The district court found Matusovic guilty of intentionally providing false information on the BCA form. Specifically, the district court found that Matusovic had filled out numerous registration forms in the past, understood what it meant to provide an address on a change-of-information form, and "had no intention by his own admission" of staying at the Rosemount address. At sentencing, the state asked the district court to make a finding of fact that Matusovic was a level-III offender in order for the court to impose a ten-year term of conditional release. The district court then found that Matusovic was a level-III sex offender and imposed the ten-year term of conditional release. Matusovic appeals.

DECISION

I. The evidence is sufficient to find Matusovic guilty under Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 5(a).

Matusovic argues that the evidence is not sufficient to convict him under Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 5(a), because (1) the deputy at the jail to whom he gave the false information does not qualify as a "law enforcement authority" under the statute and (2) he

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did not intentionally provide false information. A defendant is guilty under Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 5(a), if they "intentionally provide[] false information to a corrections agent, law enforcement authority, or the bureau." "We use the same standard of review in bench trials and in jury trials in evaluating the sufficiency of the evidence." State v. Palmer, 803 N.W.2d 727, 733 (Minn. 2011). Under that standard, "[t]he verdict will not be overturned if, giving due regard to the presumption of innocence and the prosecution's burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the [fact-finder] could reasonably have found the defendant guilty of the charged offense." State v. Leake, 699 N.W.2d 312, 319 (Minn. 2005).

In evaluating sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenges, we "carefully examine the record to determine whether the facts and the legitimate inferences drawn from them would permit the factfinder to reasonably conclude that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Waiters, 929 N.W.2d 895, 900 (Minn. 2019) (quotation omitted). We assume that the fact-finder "believed the state's witnesses and disbelieved any evidence to the contrary." State v. Moore, 438 N.W.2d 101, 108 (Minn. 1989). This standard of review applies when a conviction is adequately supported by direct evidence. State v. Horst, 880 N.W.2d 24, 39 (Minn. 2016). Direct evidence is "evidence that is based on personal knowledge or observation and that, if true, proves a fact without inference or presumption." State v. Harris, 895 N.W.2d 592, 599 (Minn. 2017) (quotation omitted).

If the state uses circumstantial evidence to prove an element of an offense, we apply a heightened standard of review to the evidence underlying that element. State v. Porte, 832 N.W.2d 303, 309 (Minn.App. 2013) (citing State v. Al-Naseer, 788 N.W.2d 469, 473 (Minn. 2010)).

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Circumstantial evidence is "evidence from which the factfinder can infer whether the facts in dispute existed or did not exist." Harris, 895 N.W.2d at 599 (quotation omitted).

A. The direct evidence at trial established that Matusovic provided false information to a corrections agent, law enforcement authority, or the bureau.

Matusovic first argues that his conviction must be overturned because the Goodhue County detention deputy to whom he provided false information about his primary address is not a "law enforcement authority" under the statute. We disagree.

We first observe that Matusovic's argument is based on a mischaracterization of the state's allegations, arguments at trial, and the basis for the district court's determination of guilt and subsequent conviction. Matusovic asserts that the state did not base its case on Matusovic providing false information to the BCA, and that the district court only convicted him of providing false information to "the local authorities, "[2] which he seemingly equates to the statutory term "law enforcement authority." But the record belies that argument. The complaint contained allegations that Matusovic provided false information on the BCA "Change of Information Form," which listed the BCA as a recipient of this false information. The state consistently argued at trial that the false information on the form was sent to the bureau in violation of the statute, specifically noting in its opening statement that the form containing the false information was sent to the BCA

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and in its closing argument that Matusovic's signed form with the false information was submitted to the BCA. The district court based Matusovic's conviction on the false information contained on the BCA form delivered to the bureau, not the statements communicated to the detention deputy. Matusovic does not contest that the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he provided false information regarding his primary address to the BCA, which the statute expressly criminalizes. See Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 5(a) (stating a defendant is guilty if they "intentionally provide[] false information to a corrections agent, law enforcement authority, or the bureau." (emphasis added)).

Regardless of Matusovic's characterization of the state's case and his conviction, the direct evidence elicited at trial...

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