KEVIN M. BERGMAN, Appellant,
STATE OF ALASKA, Appellee.
Appeal from the Superior Court, Fourth Judicial District, Fairbanks, Michael P. McConahy, Judge. Trial Court No. 4FA-12-019 CR
Appearances: David T. McGee, under contract with the Public Defender Agency, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant.
Patricia L. Haines, Assistant District Attorney, Fairbanks, and Craig W. Richards, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.
Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Suddock, Superior Court Judge. [*]
Kevin M. Bergman was convicted of two counts of third-degree criminal mischief - one count for vandalizing mining equipment belonging to another man, and one count for bulldozing three miles of a wilderness trail located on state and borough land near Fairbanks, widening it into a road that was accessible to motor vehicles.
In this appeal, Bergman contends that the evidence presented at his trialwas not legally sufficient to support these two convictions.
With respect to the count involving the vandalism of the miningequipment, Bergman argues that the evidence was insufficient to identify him as the person who damaged the equipment. But Bergman's arguments hinge on viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to himself. When an appellate court evaluates the sufficiency of the evidence to support a guilty verdict in a criminal trial, we must view the evidence (and the inferences that could reasonably be drawn from that evidence) in the light most favorable to upholding the jury's verdict. 
Viewing the evidence at Bergman's trial in that light, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to convince reasonable jurors that the State had proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence was therefore legally sufficient to support Bergman's conviction for vandalizing the mining equipment.
With respect to the count involving the bulldozing of the wilderness trail to widen it and facilitate vehicle access, Bergman argues that the evidence failed to establish that he acted with the culpable mental state required by the statute defining the offense.
Bergman was charged under AS 11.46.482(a)(1). At the time of Bergman's offense, this statute declared that a person commits the crime of third-degree criminal mischief if, (1) acting with the intent to damage property of another, and (2) having no right to do so, nor any reasonable ground to believe that they have the right to do so, the person (3) damages the property of another in an amount of $500 or more.
Bergman argues that the evidence at his trial was legally insufficient to establish the first of these elements - i.e., to prove that he acted with the intent to "damage property of another". Bergman asserts that the evidence unequivocally established that his intention in bulldozing the trail was not to damage it, but rather to improve it.
We reject Bergman's claim because we conclude that the word "damage" in our criminal mischief statute must be interpreted so as to protect an owner's interest in using or enjoying the property as the owner sees fit - free from alterations that other people might wish to perform to make the property "better".
One analogous case we found is People v. Mi sevi s, 547 N.Y.S.2d 439 (N.Y. App. 1989), where a defendant was convictedof criminalmischief for hiring a contractor to widenapublic road without consultingthe town government. The contractor removed trees and fences along the roadway and ...