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Name: People v. Cervantes
Case #: B150919
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 04/29/2004
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 8/11/04

Incriminating statements made by a defendant to his neighbor were admissible at trial against his codefendants. The three defendants here were charged with first degree murder; Cervantes and Morales were tried before the same jury, while Martinez was tried before a separate jury. Both juries heard evidence regarding Morales’s statements to his neighbor, a nurse, whom he consulted regarding injuries he received during the commission of the offense. In these statements Morales implicated himself in the murder, but put most of the blame on his two codefendants. On appeal, Cervantes and Martinez argued that admission of the neighbor’s testimony regarding these statements violated their right to confront and cross-examine Morales. The appellate court noted that confrontation issues are now governed by the standard outlined in Crawford v. Washington (2004) 124 S.Ct. 1354, which focuses on the testimonial or non-testimonial nature of the statement in question. The court found that Morales’s statements to the neighbor were non-testimonial because he did not reasonably anticipate that the statement would be used at trial. Thus, the standard of admissibility turns on whether the statement bore sufficient indicia of reliability. Because the statement constituted a declaration against interest, and further occurred between friends in a noncoercive setting fostering uninhibited disclosures, the court found that the statement was properly admitted.