Criminal: PEAK V. COMMONWEALTH (SC; 6/15/2006)

CRIMINAL:  Co-defendant statements
DATE:  6/15/2006

Held trial judge did not err by permitting the introduction of the unredacted statement given by the co-defendant and had waived his right of confrontation regarding that same unredacted taped interview. 

After his arrest, Meeks gave an extensive taped statement to the police implicating himself as well as his two co-defendants.  Four weeks into the joint trial, the Commonwealth made significant efforts to produce a redacted version of the statement that could be introduced against Meeks without prejudicing Peak.  Meeks objected to the redacted version of the tape because he felt it made him look to be the trigger man.  Instead, he demanded that the full unredacted version be played.  He waived his 5th Amendment rights and moved to have the audiotape of the statement played in its original form.  Peak then requested bifurcation, mistrial or alternatively, to have portions of the statement redacted. The trial judge denied Peak’s requested relief. Peak then objected to playing the tape without Meeks taking the stand and testifying. The trial judge overruled the objection and later denied a second motion for mistrial.

SC also held co-defendant’s confession was voluntary and had voluntarily waived his Miranda rights; not entitled to missing evidence instruction; and defendants were not entitled to access the entire psychological report of a third co-defendant; and demonstrative evidence (grave wrapping) was not error.

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