Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Div. 1 addresses evidentiary issues

[CASE] Division 1 addressed a variety of interesting evidentiary issues in a recent appeal from a murder conviction. State v. Moses, --- P.3d ---, ( no. 53580-3-I (Sept. 19, 2005) (published in part).

The defendant was convicted of murdering his wife. The defense offered the alternate explanation that she had committed suicide.

  • Was it a violation of the defendant's confrontation rights under Crawford to admit police testimony about the wife's statements made during an interview after a domestic violence incident? Yes.
  • How about admitting testimony from a doctor and a medical social worker? No, the wife's statements were made for purposes of medical diagonosis and treatment. There was not an expectation that they were "testimonial."
  • [From here on is the unpublished part, with no precedential value -- but still some interest as examples of evidence in action.]
  • Was it error to admit evidence about the defendant's past assault of and arguments with his wife? No. It was admissible to prove motive and res gestae.
  • Was it error to exclude testimony of a defense expert who would have testified about the wife's depression and risk of suicide? No. The jury did hear testimony from four medical providers. No abuse of discretion in finding this doctor's testimony would not be helpful to the trier of fact under ER 702.
  • What about the trial court's limiting the defense use of the wife's two journals? No abuse of discretion.
  • What about testimony by the medical examiner and ballistics expert that the death was a "homicide"? OK: not impermissible opinion testimony.
Affirmed, but remanded for resentencing.

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