Court of Appeals upholds Brian Rinkel assault conviction

The Minnesota State Court of Appeals upheld the 2016 Morrison County conviction of Brian Rinkel of Hillman for assault in the second degree (dangerous weapon) Monday, Sept. 11.

On July 8, 2016, after a two-day jury trial, a Morrison County jury found Rinkel guilty of assaulting an adult male by running him off the road with his truck. Rinkel was sentenced to serve 49 months in prison.

The case stemmed from an incident July 30, 2015 where an adult male had found Rinkel on his farm property in Benton County. Rinkel had a trailer backed into the landowner’s storage shed at about 5:30 a.m. The landowner went up to the truck and Rinkel suddenly drove away. The landowner got into his car and followed Rinkel in order to get the truck’s license number. This chase crossed into Morrison County where Rinkel turned his truck around and drove directly toward the landowner’s car in the landowner’s own lane. The landowner quickly backed off the road, but his car was clipped by Rinkel’s trailer. Deputies from the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office were able to locate the truck and trailer and Rinkel was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. A truck when used as a weapon is considered a dangerous weapon.

Rinkel appealed the conviction, claiming his conduct was not assaultive. The Court of Appeals rejected that argument ruling that the totality of Rinkel’s behavior that day showed his assaultive intent.

The court said, “After driving in (the victim’s) lane for a considerable distance, and colliding with [his] vehicle, Rinkel did not stop to render aid. Rather, he brandished a tire iron and then drove off.” This was evidence, the court ruled, that Rinkel’s intent was to assault by causing fear.

Assistant Morrison County Attorney Todd Kosovich was the prosecutor throughout the case from the first court appearance to jury trial through appeal.

Morrison County Attorney Brian Middendorf said, “We are pleased with the decision of the Court of Appeals. Mr. Rinkel’s conduct was clearly criminal in nature and very dangerous. It may have taken two years, but we were determined to see that he was held accountable.”