CRIMINAL PROCEDURE – Bruton rule, co-defendant’s redacted statement: Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Michael Stone (SC 8/27/2009)

Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Michael Stone
2007-SC-000107-DG August 27, 2009 2007-SC-000576-DG August 27, 2009
Opinion by Justice Venters. All sitting; all concur.

After a trial with his four co-defendants, Stone was convicted of manslaughter. The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction, holding that Stone’s Sixth Amendment right to confront evidence against him under Bruton and Richardson was violated when the trial court admitted a co-defendant’s redacted statement to police that the victim was “backing away” when he was stabbed by Stone.

The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals and ordered a new trial. However, the Court determined Bruton was inapplicable since the statement was being used against someone other than the declarant. The Court stated that Crawford applies in instances like this, where the out-of-court statement is being used against a defendant other than the declarant. The Court concluded that since Stone was not afforded an opportunity to cross-examine the declarant, the use of the statement violated Stone’s Sixth Amendment rights.

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