“Other acts” evidence that defendant struck/shook child were admissible as well as autopsy photos: DANT V. COM (SC 5/22/2008)

CRIMINAL:  Hearsay; Prior Bad Acts
DATE RENDERED: 5/22/2008

SC affirmed Dant’s conviction and life sentence for wanton murder. TC did not violated the hearsay rules nor KRE 404(b) when it admitted incriminating testimony. Because the evidence of Dant previously smacking Addryana on the head when she did not mind him could support a "reasonable probability" that Dant also struck Addryana on the head and/or used violence to stop her from crying on the night of her death, SC found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it determined that this evidence was relevant under KRE 404(b). Since the probative value of this evidence is not outweighed by its prejudicial effect, SC affirmed the trial court’s ruling on the admissibility of Dant’s prior abuse of Addryana. The evidence strongly reveals a common element that precedes each act of physical abuse-a crying baby. Despite the fact that each physical act was not identical, because each action was prompted by a crying child, Hall’s testimony regarding Dant’s prior abuse of Katilyn and Isaac fits within the pattern of conduct exception and was properly admitted at trial. Since Dant was given actual notice of the Commonwealth’s intent to introduce KRE 404(b) evidence in time to adequately challenge its admissibility, SC concluded that he did not suffer any prejudice and the trial court did not err in finding that the notice requirement of KRE 404(c) was satisfied.

Digested by Scott C. Byrd
Olgin and Byrd

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