The Minnesota Court of Appeals has denied an appeal by Michael Dean Grussing for a new trial.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has denied an appeal by Michael Dean Grussing for a new trial. Grussing was found guilty in Feb. of 2016 of the second-degree, intentional murder of his roommate, Kevin Arthur Richardson on Sept. 8, 2015.
As the basis for his appeal, Grussing claimed that, during his trial, jurors were allowed to hear prejucicial testimony in regards to three previous felony convictions. This, he said, denied him his constitutional, due-process rights to a fair trial.
During his trial, Grussing claimed he had acted in self defense when he stabbed Richardson in the neck with a filet knife. However, evidence presented during the trial clearly showed that he had not acted in self defense.
Witnesses saw Grussing, with a knife in his hand, chasing Richardson out of the apartment. Also, statements Grussing made to police admitting he had stabbed Richardson, and statements he made later to fellow detainees in jail showed that he was glad Richardson was dead.
In its unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals ruled that Grussing failed to show that the district court erred and that the error was prejudicial. In order to be prejudicial, stated the court, “a reasonable possibility must exist that the evidence significantly affected the verdict.”
Because of the overwhelming evidence of guilt, the court stated that any error in admitting the prior convictions was harmless.
During his trial, Grussing himself testified about his prior convictions. After this testimony, the district court properly instructed the jury that evidence of Grussing’s prior convictions could only be used in assessing his credibility, and not as evidence of character or conduct.
In its conclusion, the Court of Appeals stated, “We conclude that no reasonable possibility exists that the evidence of Grussing’s prior felony convictions affected the jury’s verdict.”
Grussing is currently serving his 439 month sentence at the Rush City Correctional Facility.
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