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Minnesota's first-degree assault statute punishes an individual who assaults another and inflicts great bodily harm. Minn. Stat. § 609.221, subd. 1 (2014). "Assault" is defined as (1) an act done with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death or (2) the intentional infliction of or attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another. Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 10.
Defendant Alie Dorn pushed D.E. twice in the chest, causing D.E. to stumble into a nearby bonfire and sustain burn injuries. After a bench trial, the district court convicted Dorn of first-degree assault under Minn. Stat. § 609.221, subd. 1 (2014) (great bodily harm). Dorn appealed, arguing that her intent and conduct did not meet the definition of assault under Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 10(2) (2014) (assault-harm). The court of appeals affirmed, and the state supreme court granted review.
Under the circumstances, could the defendant be convicted of first-degree assault under Minn. Stat. § 609.221, subd. 1 (2014)?
The evidence was sufficient to sustain defendant's conviction for first-degree assault under Minn. Stat. § 609.221, subd. 1 (2014) because the definition of "assault harm" under Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 10(2) was satisfied in that her application of force to the victim was intentional, her conduct constituted a battery and was therefore an "infliction" of harm, and her conduct was the direct cause of the victim's injuries; even if the victim stumbled on debris as he fell, defendant pushed him hard enough to cause him to lose his balance within a few feet of the hot embers, and he fell into the fire within moments of her push.