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State v. Clark

Supreme Court of Minnesota
755 N.W.2d 241 (2008)


In 1970, police responded to a call for emergency assistance at a residence in the Selby-Dale neighborhood. When officers James Sackett and Glen Kothe arrived at the residence, no one answered the door. Sackett was shot in front of the residence, and he later died. A crowd of people gathered at the scene, including several members of the United Black Front. The United Black Front was an organization of youths focused on protection from police and black empowerment. Larry Clark (defendant) and Ronald Reed were members of the organization. At earlier meetings, Reed advocated killing a police officer to encourage the Black Panther Party to establish a local chapter. Clark supported the idea. An investigation showed that no one at the residence was involved in the shooting. Police identified the emergency caller as Constance Trimble, Reed’s girlfriend. Trimble was tried and acquitted of Sackett’s murder, but refused to identify who asked her to place the call. No one else was arrested for the murder. In 2004, Trimble told police that Reed had asked her to place the call. Trimble claimed Reed drove her to a phone booth, provided a script for her to read, and then drove her to Clark’s house. Trimble later testified that Reed and Clark could have left the house to commit the shooting while she was in the bathroom. This statement was supported by evidence that Reed and Clark were seen walking in the Selby-Dale neighborhood with a rifle approximately 30 minutes before the shooting. Reed and Clark were each convicted of: (1) aiding and abetting first-degree premeditated murder and (2) conspiracy to commit first-degree premeditated murder. Clark appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict and that the trial court erred by failing to give an accomplice instruction with regards to Trimble’s testimony.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Anderson, J.)

Dissent (Page, J.)

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