First District Appellate Court upholds murder conviction, finding forfeiture by wrongdoing

In this case, the appellate court was reviewing a murder conviction where much of the evidence was admitted based on several identifications made by the decedent before she died. The trial court admitted two of the statements based on the hearsay exceptions that they were dying declarations and excited utterances. The third was admitted based upon the theory that the detailed statement to a detective was admissible through the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception.

In reviewing the matter, the appellate court first found the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to allow the defendant to represent himself.

Going on to the statements, the appellate court found that the trial court abused its discretion in finding that the initial identifications were admissible as dying declarations because there was no evidence that the victim believed that death was imminent, despite the fact that she was shot in the face.

This case is mandatory reading for defense counsel that is dealing with a dying declaration hearsay issue.

The appellate court found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting these 2 statements as excited utterances, despite the passage of time that occurred since the shooting. The appellate court reviewed a number of cases that had passage of time involved in the matter and concluded that, under an abuse of discretion standard, there was no reversible error there.

The appellate court then did a confrontation clause analysis for these statements, found them both to be testimonial, and found a confrontation issue because the State could not find a case that suggested that excited utterances were admissible in the face of a confrontation violation.

Moving on the the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception, the court found it applicable, rejecting the defense argument that the defendant must kill the witness to prevent the witness from testifying in the trial at hand (in this case, the murder trial). Citing the Drew Petersen case, the appellate court found the exception to be applicable.

Along with Petersen, this case is necessary reading should counsel be dealing with a forfeiture by wrongdoing issue.

The case is People v. Alvin Perkins.

Related Posts
  • Number 10 of Bill Wolf’s “Top Ten” Fourth Amendment Cases for Illinois Lawyers: The Illinois Appellate Court Case of People v. McCavitt. Read More
  • U.S. Supreme Court Holds Defendants Sentenced on Mandatory Minimum Ineligible for Later Sentencing Reductions Based on Reduction in Guidelines Range. Read More
  • Seventh Circuit Orders Limited Remand in Light of United States v. Dean Read More