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Name: People v. Jiles
Case #: E034087
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 09/16/2004
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 12/22/04: S128638

A victim’s statement made shortly before her death is admissible under Crawford v. Washington (2004) 124 S.Ct. 1354 regardless of whether the statement is testimonial. The defendant’s wife told a police officer that the defendant had stabbed her; she then lost consciousness and died about an hour later. The defendant argued that her statement was inadmissible under the Sixth Amendment because the statement was testimonial and he had had no opportunity to cross-examine her. The Court of Appeal rejected this argument, noting that Crawford had left open an exception for dying declarations and the doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing, i.e., where a witness has become unavailable for cross-examination because the defendant has killed her. The fact that the statement here was admitted as a spontaneous utterance rather than a dying declaration was irrelevant, because forfeiture by wrongdoing extinguishes confrontation claims on equitable grounds. The court further held that defendant’s Miranda rights were not violated where, after he had stopped questioning by requesting an attorney, he later initiated further discussions with police and waived his right to an attorney. Finally, the court found that sufficient evidence supported the jury’s finding that defendant was sane at the time of the killing, and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding hearsay testimony regarding nontestifying expert witness opinions, even though the testifying expert relied on those opinions in forming his own.