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Name: People v. Jones
Case #: B233204
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 07/23/2012
Summary

The forfeiture by wrongdoing doctrine is not limited to statements by victim witnesses who were murdered to prevent their testimony. Appellant was charged with assault, grand theft, and criminal threats against his former girlfriend’s friend. The former girlfriend was subpoenaed to testify at a hearing on the admissibility of evidence that appellant choked her in 2009. She had previously told a detective that she ended her relationship with appellant because of physical violence between them, that she was afraid of him, and that he made incriminating statements to her on the date of the charged crimes. After she failed to appear, a body attachment was ordered but the prosecution was unable to locate her. Inmate phone records showed that appellant had called her a dozen times, they spoke for over 10 hours, and portions of the recorded calls demonstrated his intentional efforts to dissuade her from testifying. The trial court admitted her statements based on the forfeiture by wrongdoing doctrine. (Evid. Code, § 1390; Giles v. California (2008) 554 U.S. 353.) Affirmed. While the former girlfriend’s statements to the detective were testimonial, the Sixth Amendment right to confrontation did not bar admission of the statements in this case. One who obtains the absence of a witness by intentional wrongdoing forfeits the constitutional right to confrontation of the witness. The “wrongdoing” is not limited to killing victim witnesses, as appellant argued. The doctrine applies to statements by corroborating witnesses whose testimony was prevented by means other than murder. The trial court did not err in admitting the statements.