State v. Scharmer

Decision Date11 June 1993
Docket NumberNo. C0-92-151,C0-92-151
Citation501 N.W.2d 620
PartiesSTATE of Minnesota, Respondent, v. Scott Allen SCHARMER, Petitioner, Appellant.
CourtMinnesota Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court

The evidence is legally insufficient to support appellant's convictions of third degree burglary.

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Evan Jones, Asst. State Public Defender, Minneapolis, for appellant.

Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Atty. Gen., William F. Klump Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., St. Paul, and Kenneth Kohler, Nobles County Atty., Worthington, for respondent.

Heard, considered and decided by the court en banc.

WAHL, Justice.

Appellant Scott Allen Scharmer was convicted after a jury trial in Nobles County District Court of two counts of third degree burglary, Minn.Stat. Sec. 609.582, subd. 3 (1990), in connection with the burglary of a hardware store and a grocery store in Wilmont, Minnesota. The court of appeals affirmed. State v. Scharmer, No. C0-92-151, 1992 WL 340563 (Minn.Ct.App. Nov. 17, 1992). The only issue Mr. Scharmer raises on appeal to this court is whether the evidence is legally sufficient to support the convictions. We hold that it is not and reverse.

The evidence introduced at trial was as follows:

Arleen and Dennis Gerber, returning to their apartment above Denny's Tap on Main Street in Wilmont at approximately 3:20 a.m. on June 2, 1991, observed a strange black car parked down the block. As they entered the back door of the bar, they saw through the bar's front window two men coming out of the hardware store across the street. The Gerbers testified that one of the men was a thin white man and described the other as heavier set and darker complected, possibly Mexican, with a moustache. Both men were wearing t- shirts and jeans. Neither Arleen nor Dennis could positively identify defendant at trial.

While Dennis was dialing 911, Arleen saw the men cross Main Street and enter the grocery store. She then saw one of the men leave the store and proceed around the corner by the bank. Dennis went out the back door of the bar where he saw two figures standing across the alley about 150 yards away. As Police Chief Daryl Behrends drove past them in his unmarked pickup truck, Dennis saw the men duck down into the weeds. When the men stood up and started walking towards him, Dennis went back inside. Chief Behrends parked by the strange black car, thinking it might be the burglars' getaway vehicle. Deputies searched the immediate area, but found nothing except a crowbar.

Worthington police officer Kevin Dather and his canine partner Max, called in to conduct a scent search, began tracking in the area where the suspects were last seen. The trail led west past a baseball diamond and ended at a farm. When they were near the baseball diamond, Max had seemed to indicate a second track to the north, where about 100 yards away there was a grain elevator. Instead of allowing Max to follow this secondary track, Dather took him back to the squad car to give him a drink and wet his nose, then drove the dog to the elevator. As soon as he was let out of the car, Max ran into the building where he found appellant lying on the floor with his right arm tucked around behind a stairway wall.

Responding to Dather's call for assistance, Deputy Sheriff Duane Rogers arrived on the scene, handcuffed appellant and ordered him to lay face down in the dirt outside of the elevator. While appellant was on the ground, Max bit him on the leg twice. After appellant was taken into custody, Dather and Rogers searched the elevator but failed to find a second suspect. They did find a glove at the bottom of the stairs by the wall where appellant had been discovered. Dather testified that the glove was clean and appeared new; Rogers said it was dirty.

Nineteen days later, Deputy Rogers returned to the unsecured elevator and found another glove under a safe and a pry bar lying between sacks of feed in the area where appellant had been discovered, neither of which had been found during the first search. Laboratory analysis of the pry bar revealed no traces of wood or aluminum fragments on it. Neither the gloves, the pry bar, nor the strange black car were ever linked to appellant or to the burglaries. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) determined that footprints photographed in the area where the two suspects had been seen did not match appellant's shoes.

Rebecca Prins, 11, and Jason Brotzel, 12, were out riding their bicycles at around 3:30 a.m. on June 2. Rebecca testified that she saw a short fat man wearing a long-sleeved shirt with yellow shoulders and either sweat pants or blue jeans pounding on the door of the hardware store. Jason testified that he saw two men by the door of the hardware store, one of whom was "kind of short" and wearing a black shirt with elbow-length sleeves and yellow striping on the shoulders.

Appellant is an American Indian of medium build, 5' 11" tall and weighing 210 pounds. When he was arrested at the...

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25 cases
  • State v. Clark, No. A06-1476.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • August 28, 2008
    ...evidence must do more than give rise to suspicion of guilt; `[i]t must point unerringly to the accused's guilt.'" State v. Scharmer, 501 N.W.2d 620, 622 (Minn.1993) (quoting State v. Loss, 295 Minn. 271, 281, 204 N.W.2d 404, 409 (1973)). Mere presence at the crime scene is insufficient evid......
  • State v. Harris, A15-0711
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • May 24, 2017 the guilt of the defendant as to exclude beyond a reasonable doubt any reasonable inference other than guilt."); State v. Scharmer , 501 N.W.2d 620, 622 (Minn. 1993) (reversing convictions because "[t]he evidence did not form a complete chain leading so directly to appellant's guilt as t......
  • State v. McKenzie, C8-94-94
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • May 19, 1995
    ...are consistent only with the defendants guilt and inconsistent with any rationale hypothesis except that of guilt. State v. Scharmer, 501 N.W.2d 620, 622 (Minn.1993). Furthermore here, we must be mindful of the rule expressed in Minn.Stat. § 634.04 A conviction cannot be had upon the testim......
  • State v. Stein, No. A06-1848.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • January 7, 2010
    ...then a reasonable doubt as to guilt arises. 173 Minn. 543, 545-46, 217 N.W. 683, 684 (1928) (citation omitted). In State v. Scharmer, 501 N.W.2d 620, 622 (Minn.1993), we conducted a "detailed review of the evidence," and found it insufficient to convict. The State had presented evidence tha......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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