WILLMAR — The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed a pattern-of-stalking conviction against a Kandiyohi County defendant and also concluded there was sufficient evidence to support guilty verdicts for threats of violence charges against her.
The court reversed and remanded three unadjudicated verdicts for stalking by telephone and also instructed Kandiyohi County District Court to dismiss the stalking-by-telephone charges against Leticia Rene Morales.
Morales, 36, of Willmar, appealed her 2019 pattern-of-stalking conviction by a Kandiyohi County jury, which also rendered guilty verdicts for stalking by telephone that the Kandiyohi County District Court did not adjudicate. In her appeal, Morales argued that the stalking-by-telephone law had been found to be unconstitutional.
She asked the court to also set aside the pattern of stalking and threats of violence charges because the prosecution during her jury trial relied on evidence for the stalking-by-telephone charges.
In a decision released on Dec. 14, the Court of Appeals ordered that the stalking-by-telephone convictions be reversed and remanded to the district court since the statute was overly broad and previously had been found unconstitutional.
However, the court found that the evidence presented to the jury on the stalking-by-phone charges did not represent an error sufficient to reverse the conviction for pattern of stalking and found also that there was sufficient evidence for the guilty verdicts for threats of violence.
The evidence presented for those charges included an incident in which she allegedly attempted to run over the victim, made threats and visited his place of employment in violation of an order for protection.
“Ultimately, the only reasonable inference from the circumstances proved is that Morales made threatening statements with a reckless disregard of a known, substantial risk that the statements would terrorize (the victim). We accordingly conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the jury’s guilty verdicts for threats of violence.”
The district court had sentenced Morales to 18 months in prison on the conviction for pattern of stalking, but stayed execution of the prison sentence and ordered her to serve five years of probation.