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Name: People v. Corella
Case #: B163370
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 09/16/2004
Summary

Appellant was charged with corporal injury to a spouse. The victim, his wife, had made statements to police and medical personnel that her husband had hit her. At the preliminary hearing, she changed her testimony and said that the earlier statements had been false. When advised concerning self-incrimination, she refused to testify further, and her preliminary hearing testimony was stricken. At trial, the inculpatory statements to police were admitted as spontaneous statements under Evidence Code section 1240, but her exculpatory preliminary hearing testimony was excluded because it had been stricken. On appeal, appellant argued that the admission of the statements to police violated appellant’s right to confrontation because they did not qualify as section 1240 spontaneous statements and were “testimonial” statements under Crawford v. Washington. He also contended that the victim’s preliminary hearing testimony was admissible under section 1202 as an inconsistent statement by a hearsay declarant. The appellate court disagreed with the first contention, finding that the statements were spontaneous and not testimonial under Crawford. However, the trial court erred in excluding the preliminary hearing statements. The victim’s hearsay statements to police were admitted, and the jury was improperly prevented from fully assessing her credibility by the exclusion of the disputed evidence. Although the statements were stricken from the preliminary hearing testimony, that does not mean that the words were not spoken, only that they were inadmissable as prior testimony. The error was prejudicial because it resulted in the jury hearing only half of the critical evidence, and therefore reversal was required.