Expert Disclosures: JONES V. COMMONWEALTH (SC 11/1/2007)

JONES V. COMMONWEALTH
CRIMINAL:  Expert opinions, disclosure
2005-SC-000879-DG.pdf
PUBLISHED: 1321 AFFIRMING IN PART AND REVERSING AND REMANDING IN PART;
OPINION WRITTEN BY –  MINTON
DATE RENDERED:  11/1/2007

SC reversed Defendant’s convictions for incest, rape, and sodomy due to TC’s limits on the testimony of Jones’s DNA expert. Jones’s conviction for bribing a witness is affirmed because the improper limitation on Dr. Melekovets’s testimony had no discernible bearing upon that conviction .

Jones had furnished a copy of Dr. Melekovets’s one-page report to the Commonwealth as pretrial discovery several months before trial. Dr. Melekovets’s report indicated that he found no Y-chromosomes on the vaginal swab taken from M.G . Implicitly underlying that conclusion is the obvious fact that Dr. Melekovets fundamentally disagreed with the Commonwealth’s DNA expert’s conclusion that the male DNA found in the vaginal swab taken from M.G. matched Jones. After all, a lack of Y-chromosomes necessarily rules out a match for Jones’s–or any other male’s-DNA on the vaginal swab. In other words, it surely could not have come as a surprise to the Commonwealth that Dr. Melekovets would disagree with the conclusion and/or analytical process used by the Commonwealth’s DNA expert in light of the conclusions contained in Dr. Melekovets’s report. So, SC did not equate permitting Dr. Melekovets to explain why he found fault with the Commonwealth’s DNA expert’s conclusion and/or methodology to be impermissible "sandbagging ."

So the conclusion of the Court of Appeals that the trial court properly limited Dr. Melekovets’s testimony (because Jones committed a discovery violation when he did not provide the Commonwealth with the entire underlying bases for Dr. Melekovets’s testimony) is premised upon an impermissibly broad interpretation of RCr 7.24. Therefore, since Jones provided the Commonwealth all that was required in discovery concerning Dr. Melekovets’s report, the trial court erred when it relied upon RCr 7.24 to limit Dr. Melekovets’s testimony.

On remand, the pornographic images found on Defendant’s computer may not be introduced and shown to the jury unless a nexus is shown between the images and the victim’s testimony.

Digested by Scott C. Byrd
Olgin and Byrd

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