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Name: In re Pedroza
Case #: B194249
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 02/13/2007

Under Penal Code section 1240, an out-of-court statement is admissible if it explains an act, condition, or event perceived by the declarant and it is made spontaneously while the declarant is under the stress of the event. The fact that the declarant’s statement is in response to questioning does not necessarily make it inadmissable. Appellant was convicted of the arson murder of his wife. A police officer arriving at the scene of the fire questioned the wife as to what happened and she responded that defendant threw gas on her and burned her. The victim’s responses to such a brief question, moments after being burned, were the product of the stress of the moment and not of deliberation. Although a separate questioning lasted some five minutes, there was no doubt that the victim’s pain and concern for her life precluded any motive to give a false account. Further, the statements were not testimonial nor the product of a formal police interrogation because the officers were attempting to ascertain the nature of the ongoing emergency; conversations with the victim were brief, the primary purpose of the inquiry was to meet the emergency, and the victim’s statements were spontaneous declarations. (Crawford v. Washington (2004) 541 U.S. 36; Davis v. Washington (2006) 547 U.S. __,126 S.Ct. 2266.)