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Monday, April 28, 2014

Ind. Courts - More on "Dead woman’s video statement to cops admissible"

Updating this ILB post from this morning, Bob Kasarda of the NWI Times is reporting this afternoon:

VALPARAISO | Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford cleared the way Monday for the state appellate court to review his decision from last week to allow videotaped statements from a dead witness to be used in an upcoming murder trial.

Defense attorney Peter Boyles sought the necessary permission to file the interlocutory appeal.

Bradford postponed the May 12 trial for the accused, Dontaye Singletary, to allow time for the appellate court to decide whether the taped testimony can be used. * * *

A former jail cellmate of Singletary told the court earlier this month that Singletary indicated to him that he had the witness in question killed.

The witness, Antoinetta Johnson, 34, of Hammond, was shot to death in her beauty salon Dec. 13, 2012, at 1008 W. Fifth Ave., Gary.

Bradford cleared the use of the videotaped interviews with Johnson under a law that says they can be admitted if it can be shown Singletary was responsible for Johnson not being available to appear at the trial. Singletary forfeited his right to cross-examine the woman.

Upon hearing that Singletary never said directly that he had Johnson killed, Boyles questioned whether the former cellmate was testifying in hopes of avoiding spending the rest of his life behind bars.

ILB: I have highlighted the above sentence because it rang a bell and I located this Sept. 26, 2012 ILB post headed "'Illinois law allowing hearsay to shape [Drew] Peterson case,' and the Indiana connection."

The latter part of the 2012 post discusses the similar and then-new Indiana Evidence Rule 804(b)(5), including: "Indiana's rule was effective July 1, 2009 and has not yet been the subject of court interpretation. This may come soon, however. Yesterday the Court of Appeals heard oral argument in the case of Tyler A. White v. State of Indiana."

A subsequent, Nov. 21, 2012 post summarizes J. Najam's opinion in Tyler, including:

Because there is no reported Indiana case addressing the rule, the application of the rule to the circumstances in this case is an issue of first impression. * * *

Under Evidence Rule 804(b)(5), because White was at least partially motivated to kill Amy to prevent her from testifying at the provisional custody hearing, the trial court properly allowed the challenged hearsay evidence. * * * And we hold that the probative value of the 804(b)(5) evidence outweighed the danger of unfair prejudice to White. * * *

We hold that the trial court properly allowed hearsay testimony regarding statements Amy had made to others prior to her death under Indiana Evidence Rule 804(b)(5). The preponderance of the evidence shows that White killed Amy, at least in part, for the purpose of preventing her testimony at the provisional custody hearing.

Transfer was denied in Tyler by the Supreme Court on Feb. 14, 2013.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 28, 2014 05:01 PM
Posted to Ind. Trial Ct. Decisions