Keith William Grube was convicted by a Lac Qui Parle County jury of first-degree murder under Minn.Stat. § 609.185(6) (1992),
On appeal from his judgment of conviction, Grube argues that: (1) his rights under the Confrontation Clauses of the United States and Minnesota Constitutions were violated when the trial court admitted into evidence hearsay statements made by Cindy Grube; (2) Minn.Stat. § 609.185(6) is unconstitutionally vague; and (3) the evidence introduced at trial is insufficient as a matter of law to sustain his conviction under Minn.Stat. § 609.185(6). By pro se brief, Grube raises four additional issues: (1) whether his rights under the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution were violated by the trial court's failure to give a "third verdict" instruction; (2) whether the trial court erred: (a) by failing to instruct the jury on the "past pattern of domestic abuse" requirement, (b) by admitting evidence of domestic abuse committed out of state, and (c) by failing to follow the requirements of Minn.Stat. § 609.185(6); (3) whether his rights under the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution were violated by the state's submission of multiplicious counts to the jury; and (4) whether he is entitled to a dispositional departure on his sentence. We affirm.
Grube testified at trial and admitted to killing Cindy Grube. According to Grube's testimony, he left Minnesota with two other men on Thursday, October 21, 1993, to construct canopies at out-of-state gas stations.
After he was dropped off, Grube went into the house and placed a brief telephone call to his parents' farm. When the call ended, Grube left the home and drove to Cindy Grube's home in Appleton, Minnesota. After knocking once, he entered the house through an unlocked door, climbed the stairs, and went into Cindy Grube's bedroom, where she was sleeping. Grube woke her and the two talked for a few minutes. Their discussion turned into an argument. The argument ended when Grube manually strangled Cindy Grube to death. Grube put her body in the trunk of his car and drove to his parents' farm, where he placed her body on the dirt floor of an abandoned shed. He then walked to the farmhouse, got into bed with his girl-friend, Tammy Williamson, and went to sleep. When he awoke later that morning, he returned to the shed, moved Cindy Grube's body to a corner of the building, and covered it with cardboard, old tools, sheet metal, and a five-gallon drum.
Law enforcement officials, working on a tip received by the Lac Qui Parle County Attorney, found Cindy Grube's body at 12:40 a.m. on October 27. Suspicion focused on Grube almost immediately because of the body's location and the fact that Cindy Grube had recently obtained a domestic abuse protection order against Grube. Grube was arrested later that morning.
At a pretrial hearing, Grube moved to dismiss that count of the indictment charging him with first-degree murder under Minn. Stat. § 609.185(6), on grounds that the statute is unconstitutionally vague. The trial court denied that motion. The state moved the court to allow introduction of two domestic abuse Orders for Protection obtained by Cindy Grube against Grube, along with her affidavits and the hearing transcripts supporting those protection orders. The trial court, relying on Minn.R.Evid. 804(b)(5), granted the state's motion.
At trial, the state sought to establish the "past pattern of domestic abuse" required by Minn.Stat. § 609.185(6) through the admission of the protection order affidavits and the hearing transcripts; through the admission of testimony from witnesses who had seen various marks on Cindy Grube's body, which she had attributed to Grube's abuse; and through the admission of testimony from witnesses to whom Grube had admitted abusing Cindy Grube. A summary of each of the witnesses' testimony is listed below:
In his testimony, Grube admitted to: (1) choking Cindy Grube and pushing her against a wall during the winter of 1991; (2) choking Cindy Grube on January 1, 1992; (3) hitting Cindy Grube on the buttock and choking her, causing a bruise on her buttock; (4) choking her in self-defense on July 24, 1993, and then pushing her, causing her to cut her head; (5) grabbing Cindy Grube by the jaw in August 1993, causing a bruise; and (6) telling Scott Lagred he had hit Cindy Grube.
Grube argues that the trial court's admission of the protection order affidavits and transcripts violated his rights under the Confrontation Clauses of the United States and Minnesota Constitutions. In response, the state, relying on State v. Sorenson, 441 N.W.2d 455 (Minn.1989), urges us to ignore this issue because Grube waived the issue at trial. We will not decide issues that are raised for the first time on appeal or have not first been addressed by the trial court. Id. at 457. However, our review of the record here satisfies us that the issue was not waived at trial and is properly before us. In addition, the state asserts that the challenged statements meet constitutional muster because they are sufficiently trustworthy. We agree.
In Idaho v. Wright, 497 U.S. 805, 110 S.Ct. 3139, 111 L.Ed.2d 638 (1990), the United States Supreme Court determined that out of court statements that are presumptively barred by the hearsay rule and by the Confrontation Clause may nonetheless be admitted at trial where the declarant is unavailable to testify and when the statements bear "adequate `indicia of reliability.'" Id. at 815, 110 S.Ct. at 3146. Under Wright, a statement bears adequate indicia of reliability if it falls within a firmly-rooted hearsay exception or is supported by particularized guarantees of trustworthiness. Id. at 816, 110 S.Ct. at 3147. In determining whether particularized guarantees of trustworthiness exist, the Court examined "the totality of the circumstances," and noted that "the relevant circumstances include only those that surround the making of the statement and that render the declarant particularly worthy of belief." Id. at 819, 110 S.Ct. at 3148; see also State v. Lanam, 459 N.W.2d 656, 661 (Minn.1990) ("[T]he focus is not on all the circumstances, including evidence at trial corroborating the child's statements, but only on those circumstances actually surrounding the making of the statements."). We have previously recognized three factors as relevant to determining the trustworthiness of hearsay statements: (1) whether the context of the statements and the persons to whom they were made suggest that they were reliable; (2) whether the declarant had a motive for lying or problems with memory; and (3) whether the declarant had personal knowledge of the identity and role of the participants in the crime. State v. Roby, 463 N.W.2d 506, 509 (Minn.1990).
Our analysis leads us to conclude that the statements challenged by Grube contain sufficient indicia of reliability to withstand his constitutional challenge under both the federal and state constitutions. First, there is no question that Cindy Grube was unavailable as a witness at the trial. Minn.R.Evid. 804(a)(4). Second, while the challenged
The statements were based on Cindy Grube's personal knowledge and were made under oath. At the time the statements in the affidavits were made, she had no reason to believe she would not be cross-examined regarding them. She also knew she would be subject to questioning from the judge regarding both the affidavits and her testimony. There is no suggestion in the record that Cindy Grube incompletely or inaccurately recalled any of the facts contained in her statements. Further, there is no suggestion in the record that she suffered from any mental disability at the time the events occurred or at the time she made the statements. In each case she gave the statements relatively soon after the events occurred.
Grube's next argument is that Minn. Stat. § 609.185(6) is unconstitutionally vague. This argument is based on the contention that it is impossible for an ordinary person to understand what conduct is prohibited by the statute because the term "pattern" in the phrase "past pattern of domestic abuse" is not defined. He further argues that because Minn.Stat. § 609.185 "requires that * * * [domestic] abuse * * * be `interrelated,' * * * the phrase `domestic abuse' itself connotes a `pattern' of activity." Put another way, Grube argues that because domestic abuse, by itself, must comprise a pattern of related activity, the statute ultimately requires a "pattern of patterned activity." These arguments have no merit.
"`[T]he void-for-vagueness doctrine requires that a penal statute define the criminal offense with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand what conduct is prohibited and in a manner that does not encourage arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.'" Posters `N' Things, Ltd. v. United States, ___ U.S. ____, ____, 114 S.Ct. 1747, 1754, 128 L.Ed.2d 539 (1994) (quoting Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352, 357, 103 S.Ct. 1855, 1858, 75 L.Ed.2d 903 (1983)). However, when a statute clearly applies to a person's conduct, that person may not successfully challenge the statute for vagueness. Parker v. Levy, 417 U.S. 733, 756, 94 S.Ct. 2547, 2561-62, 41 L.Ed.2d 439 (1974); State v. Christie, 506 N.W.2d 293, 301 (Minn.1993). See also Village of Hoffman Estates v. Flipside, 455 U.S. 489, 495, 102 S.Ct. 1186, 1191, 71 L.Ed.2d 362 (1982) ("A plaintiff who engages in some conduct that is clearly proscribed cannot complain of the vagueness of the law as applied to the conduct of others.").
Grube's void-for-vagueness argument fails for two very simple reasons. First, his reading
The second reason Grube's void-for-vagueness argument fails is that the evidence presented at trial, which included Grube's own admissions that he had choked Cindy Grube on four separate occasions prior to choking her to death, establishes that Grube engaged in a pattern of domestic abuse under any reasonable definition of the word pattern, including the one he invites this court to adopt.
Grube's final argument is that the evidence produced at trial is insufficient to sustain his conviction under Minn.Stat. § 609.185(6), because the state presented no evidence of a pattern of domestic abuse. When considering the sufficiency of the evidence, this court must view the evidence in the record in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict and must assume the jury believed the state's witnesses and disbelieved contrary evidence. State v. Braylock, 501 N.W.2d 625, 628 (Minn.1993). We review that evidence and its legitimate inferences to determine if it was sufficient to permit the jury, giving due regard to the need to overcome the presumption of innocence by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, to conclude that the defendant was guilty of the offense charged. State v. Moore, 481 N.W.2d 355, 360 (Minn.1992). When viewed in that light, the evidence of Grube's guilt is overwhelming. By his own testimony, Grube admits to choking Cindy Grube on four separate occasions between winter 1991 and fall 1993, in addition to choking her to death in October 1993. Further, 13 witnesses testified as to their knowledge of Grube's abuse of Cindy Grube. That testimony indicates that Grube physically assaulted Cindy Grube on at least 9 different occasions. Thus, the evidence produced at trial is sufficient to sustain Grube's conviction under Minn.Stat. § 609.185(6).
Except as otherwise discussed, we have considered Grube's pro se arguments and found them lacking in merit.
Minn.Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 2(b) (1994), defines family or household member to include former spouses.