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At the time that the victim identified the defendant as her attacker, police did not know if the defendant was still the house. They also did not know if he was armed, whether you left the house, or if he was likely to return. Once police received his name, the defendant was quickly identified as a convicted felon and one who was potentially armed.
The situation encompass not only a threat to the victim but also to the police and the public. When an officer arrives on the scene it does not know where the perpetrator is, whether he is armed, or whether he might have other targets, police questioning the has the primary purposes of establishing those facts is designed to meet an ongoing emergency and is non-testimonial.
The questions asked by the officers and paramedics this case were the exact type of questions necessary to allow the police to assess the situation. In other words, they solicited information needed to enable them to meet an ongoing emergency. The defendant argued on appeal that even if the appellate court found that the hearsay statements were nontestimonial, they must still fall within a hearsay exception to be admissible. He argued that the statements were in admissible because they were on reliable hearsay and were not corroborated by any other evidence.
An exception to the hearsay rule is the dying declaration. A dying declaration is defined as a statement made by the declarant while believing that his death was imminent. It must be used in a prosecution for a homicide and concern the cause or circumstances of what he believed to be his impending death.
In the case on appeal the 85-year-old woman was found lying on the floor with severe injuries to her face. She was conscious but unable to move on her own. Paramedics placed a collar on her and and immobilized her on a backboard before being moved onto the stretcher. She was able to interact with emergency personnel insisted on being taken to the hospital.
The appellate court stated that while it’s impossible to know exactly what the victim was thinking at the time, they were not convinced that at the time she made statements that she believed her death was imminent. Therefore, her hearsay statements were not admissible under the dying declaration exception to the hearsay rule. The appellate court next examined the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule. This exception provides that a statement relating to a startling event or condition made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by startling event or condition is not excluded by the hearsay rule. An excited utterance must meet three foundational requirements. The first requirement is a startling event or condition. Secondly statement must be related to that startling event or condition. Lastly the statement must be made while the declarant is under the stress of excitement caused by the startling event or condition.
The timing of the statement in its spontaneity are important factors to consider. Whether or not a statement qualifies as an excited utterance depends not on a fixed time, but on the facts and circumstances. An excited utterance does not need to be substantially contemporaneous with startling event or condition so long as the declarant is under the stress of excitement at the time statement is made.
In the case of the grandmother who was being, she had been assaulted within moments of being found by the police. She received a blow to the head which made it impossible for her to move on her own and see clearly. Responses to the officer and paramedics were her first communication since being assaulted. Considering the timing and circumstances of the grandmothers statements made while she was still under the evident stress of the starling beating her statements could’ve been properly admitted has excited utterances.
Another exception to the hearsay rule concern statements made for the purposes of receiving medical attention. Because the grandmother statements were made to emergency medical personnel soon after the assault and were made in response to inquiries about her injuries, the statements were properly admitted under the medical exception. Contradictions and inconsistencies and witness testimony does not render the evidence inherently unreliable, said Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale. Instead it goes to the weight of the evidence. The issue of credibility and reliability of evidence is an issue for the jury. Is the jury’s job to weigh the evidence, resolve conflicting evidence, and reconcile conflicting testimony.
The defendant next argued on appeal that his due process rights were violated when the prosecution failed to notice that certain witnesses testify as experts in identifying the source of the victims head injuries. Upon request of the defense, the states shall be required to disclose the names and addresses of witnesses that the state intends to call trial. The state also must supply the relevant written or recorded statement. If there are no written or oral statements in the state must provide significant summaries of any oral statement. The statements also supply law enforcement reports made in connection with a particular case, any reports or statements made by experts in connection with the case. This includes results of physical or mental examinations and of scientific tests, experiments, or comparisons. There’s no requirement that the state designate in its witness list or summary of testimony the witness will testify as an expert. The defendant argued that certain police officers were referred qualified by the court as expert witnesses.
In one case a police officer testified injuries present on the defendant’s body at the time of his arrest. It was a fresh abrasion on his right wrist and hand area. There was also a cut on his left shin. The officer explained that a meeting with other detectives, they determined that one of the suspects had fled by jumping off a second floor balcony and that the defendants injuries looked like injuries that someone might have received by jumping and falling. This testimony was offer my status lay witness opinion testimony. The court found it impossible for layperson to determine how the injuries occurred without some specialized knowledge. Without this knowledge any opinion about the source of the injuries was pure speculation, said Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale.