Battered homeless person syndrome = relevant evidence; 1st deg. murder conviction reversed

26 Oct

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Super interesting case where the trial court excluded a proposed defense expert who would testify about how homeless people are more likely to be victims of crime of violence.  The testimony was offered to support the defendant’s imperfect self-defense claim to 1st degree murder.  The trial court excluded the evidence saying it was too general to be applicable to D and that the testimony was not beyond the common experience of jurors.  COA (1st Dist; case out of Sonoma) disagreed. The COA likened the evidence to battered women’s syndrome evidence and held it was relevant to both the subjective component of self-defense/imperfect self-defense and the objective component of self-defense because the jury was to consider whether the defendant’s belief that he was in danger was reasonable in light of all the circumstances.  The COA also held the evidence was relevant to corroborating statements D made to police about self-defense.  And, they held that the evidence was beyond the common experience of jurors.  Notably, the expert witness was a retired judge.  Pretty, pretty, pretty good.


Prejudicial error. Reversed. Booya.

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