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Name: People v. Escobar
Case #: A085837
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 08/04/2000
Subsequent History: Review denied 10/25/00

Appellant was not deprived of due process because the court instructed the jury with the 1997 version of CALJIC 2.50.02. Although there is a conflict in case law regarding this issue, it did not need to be resolved in this case because the giving of the instruction in issue was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. There was no dispute as to the killer’s identity, and any inference the jury might have drawn from the evidence of the prior incident was unimportant. There was no error in a prosecution for murder where evidence of a 1992 domestic violence incident against the murder victim, appellant’s wife, was admitted pursuant to Evidence Code section 1109. The potential for prejudice to appellant was outweighed by the probative value of the evidence. Citing People v. Falsetta (1999) 21 Cal.4th 903, the appellate court here held that since the evidence was not so prejudicial as to render the defendant’s trial fundamentally unfair, it was therefore admissible under section 1109. The trial court did not err by allowing a witness to testify about the victim’s recent statements which showed that she feared appellant. Under Evidence Code section 1252, hearsay evidence of the declarant’s mental condition is admissible unless the statement was made under circumstances which indicate a lack of trustworthiness. Here, the victim made tearful statements to a friend and coworker of 15 years, which would indicate that the statements reflected her state of mind at the time.