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Name: People v. Jefferson
Case #: B192952
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 01/07/2008

The admission of a taped exchange between accused incarcerated coperpetrators of a shooting was not error. Appellants were accused of a retaliatory drive-by shooting of the victim, who was mistakenly identified as a rival gang member. After their arrest, police placed them in a bugged cell together, hoping they would talk to each other, which they did. The jury heard that tape as well as part of another tape of appellant Staten talking to his aunt. Appellants argued on appeal that it was error to admit the tape of their conversation because it violated due process, their Fifth Amendment rights, and their right of confrontation under the Sixth Amendment. Appellant Jefferson also argued that admission of Staten’s recorded statements to his aunt violated Jefferson’s Sixth Amendment right of confrontation under Bruton and Aranda. The appellate court rejected the arguments. Jefferson and Staten were not interrogated; their conversation was a spontaneous and natural conversation between friends, and were voluntary. It is irrelevant that they were in jail when the statements were made. There was no Sixth Amendment confrontation violation because the statements were neither the result of an interrogation, nor were they testimonial. Any error with regard to Staten’s statements to his aunt was harmless, given the admission of the extremely damaging tape of the long conversation between Jefferson and Staten.