Thursday, October 12, 2006

Witness testimony admitted as exception to hearsay rule

Medina v. State of Nevada
2006 WL 2830167 (Nev.)
Supreme Court of Nevada

After being convicted by a jury of five counts of sexual assault of a victim 65 years or older, one count of batter with intent to commit a crime, victim 65 years or older, and one count of first-degree kidnapping of a victim 65 years or older, the defendant argued on appeal that the trial court erroneously admitted hearsay testimony of a neighbor who discovered the victim at the victim’s home a day after the rape and to whom the victim recounted the details of the rape and the testimony of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) who examined the victim.

The Supreme Court of Nevada disagreed reasoning as follows:

Hearsay is admissible if it falls within one of the exceptions to the general rule. Here, the admitted testimony falls within the “excited utterance” exception. “An excited utterance is a statement relating to a startling event or condition made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by the event or condition.” “The court further discussed that the elapsed time between the event and the statement is a factor to be considered but only to aid in determining whether the declarant was under stress of the startling event when he or she made the statement.” Here, the declarant (victim), a day later, was still in the excitement of the rape and the statements made to the neighbor and SANE are admissible.