Appeals court upholds perjury conviction

Local News

A 38-year-old Blue Earth woman has lost an appeal to overturn her perjury conviction related to the 2017 assault of a Blue Earth Area football player.

Allison Ann Mastin was accused of lying during a July 2018 omnibus hearing for Wyatt Tungland, a teen involved in the assault of a teammate at another player’s house in Winnebago.

On Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals dismissed Mastin’s claims that:

  • there was not enough evidence to support the jury’s guilty verdict;
  • judge Troy Timmerman and prosecutor LaMar Piper committed errors;
  • and, Piper did not tell the defense that Tungland said during a pretrial interview his brain was “mush” due to prior concussions.

According to court documents, Mastin testified that Tungland was at her home in Blue Earth at the time the teen was beaten unconscious, which occurred around 2 a.m. on Oct. 18.

Tungland, who was dating Mastin’s daughter, admitted in an interview with Winnebago police that he was at the underage drinking party and witnessed the assault, But, he denied taking part and did not tell authorities he went to Mastin’s house.

In a 17-page decision, a three-judge panel says the appellate court performs “painstaking analysis” to determine whether the evidence supports the jury’s guilty verdict.

“The circumstances proved are consistent with only one conclusion, Mastin knowingly testified falsely that Tungland was at her house on the night of the Winnebago party,” says the ruling. “Because the evidence at the trial established beyond a reasonable doubt that Mastin committed perjury, we affirm her conviction.”

In her appeal, Mastin’s attorney says Timmerman should not have allowed Winnebago police chief Eric Olson to testify the assault had received significant media attention after prohibiting media articles from being used as evidence.

Allowing the evidence was a “stark reversal” of Timmerman’s pretrial order and it was irrelevant to the perjury charge, claims the appeal.

The appellate judges found that Timmerman did not exclude testimony about media coverage and even if he had, the testimony would not have had a significant impact on the jury’s verdict.

“When an error is of no vital consequence or does not materially affect the substantial rights of the accused and there is sufficient evidence to support the verdict, we will not disturb the conviction,” says the appellate panel.

Mastin contends that Tungland telling the prosecution that his brain was “mush” could have been used to question his credibility.

But, the appeals court says there was enough evidence showing that Tungland was at the party and that knowledge would not have changed the jury’s verdict.

“An appellate court should only reverse the district court’s decision regarding a discovery violation where the prosecutor’s conduct was inexcusable and so prejudicial that the defendant did not receive a fair trial,” says the appellate ruling.

In January 2020, Mastin was convicted of perjury but found not guilty of obstructing an investigation. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail, placed on supervised probation for two years and fined $1,085, which can be paid by working on Sentence-to-Serve (STS) crews.

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