ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Court of Appeals agrees with a Freeborn County man that his rights were violated but still upholds his conviction.
Michael Allen Haukoos, 40 of Albert Lea, was convicted in March 2017 for possession of burglary tools and sentenced to three years of supervised probation. Haukoos was arrested in January 2016 after law enforcement found him under the deck near a home in the Indian Hills neighborhood outside Albert Lea. They had been called to the area by a resident who said he saw an unfamiliar vehicle driving slowly past his house every 10 or 15 minutes and then saw a male stranger walking past his home while it was snowing.
Authorities say when Haukoos was arrested he was wearing shoes with duct tape around the soles and had a bag holding a crowbar, a pry bar, a screwdriver, and a pair of pliers. Officers said two pocketknives, a flashlight, and a black ski mask were then found when Haukoos was searched.
Haukoos claimed at trial that he had only been looking for his dog. Law enforcement said there were no animal tracks in the area.
In his appeal, Haukoos argued his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent was violated when the prosecution referred to his post-arrest refusal to answer questions on three different occasions during the trial. On Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed with Haukoos that two of references were improper. However, the Court ruled that because the evidence against Haukoos was “overwhelming” and because the improper references made up such a small part of the trial, his conviction and sentence will stand.