Court rejects Guzzo appeal in home invasion case
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed the conviction of a former Duluth high school hockey captain who was convicted last year of being involved in the invasion of a Congdon Park residence in which two other men terrorized a mother and her ...
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed the conviction of a former Duluth high school hockey captain who was convicted last year of being involved in the invasion of a Congdon Park residence in which two other men terrorized a mother and her 9-year-old son at gunpoint.
Ian Guzzo, 21, formerly from Two Harbors, was sentenced last August to 57 months in prison after being found guilty of aiding and abetting first-degree burglary. He is serving his sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Faribault.
In Guzzo's appeal, St. Paul attorney Bradford Delapena argued that the trial court abused its discretion by improperly instructing the jury on liability for the crimes of another. David Schiller and Jonathon Phipps, both of Two Harbors, invaded the Terrance Hurley home on Aug. 30, 2007. They used plastic zip ties to bind Kelly Hurley and her son, threatening to shoot them if they didn't cooperate. Both defendants pleaded guilty to burglary and kidnapping. Schiller is serving a 9½-year prison sentence. Phipps was sentenced to 8¾ years.
Guzzo drew a detailed map of the inside of the Hurley home, where he had stayed with Marshall School hockey teammate William Hurley rather than drive back to his Two Harbors' home. Guzzo wasn't present during the break-in.
In his appeal, Guzzo argued that trial court Judge Shaun Floerke didn't adequately instruct the jury that the state was required to prove Guzzo "knew his accomplice was going to commit a crime and intended his presence or actions to further the commission of the crime."
Floerke instructed jurors that "the defendant is guilty of a crime committed by another person when it is proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant has intentionally aided, advised, hired, counseled, conspired with or otherwise procured the other person to commit it."
The appeals court ruled that because Floerke's jury instructions required a finding of intent, the trial court judge did not omit the element that Guzzo played a knowing role in the crime.
Duluth attorney William Paul represented Guzzo at trial. Paul referred questions to Delapena.
Delapena, who estimates that he has handled between 100 and 150 appeals, believes he has grounds to petition the state Supreme Court for possible review of the case, but said he and Guzzo had not yet made that decision. He said the Court of Appeals' decision didn't follow the precedent set in two other Minnesota cases that required that the aider and abettor have knowledge of the crime to be committed.
Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin prosecuted the case. The Court of Appeals said that Rubin overstepped court rules when he argued to the jury that Guzzo and Schiller had acted in tandem in the pawning of stolen rings in a separate incident. The appeals court said that Rubin committed "not unusually serious'' misconduct by improperly suggesting to jurors that Guzzo possessed the propensity to engage in criminal conduct with Schiller and acted in conformity with that character trait by drawing Schiller a diagram of [the Hurley home] for the purpose of burglarizing it.
Rubin's only comment on Thursday was that he was thinking of the Hurley family. "All of the denials of a new trial in the world can't bring back the family's lost sense of safety and security,'' he said.