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Name: People v. Ramirez
Case #: D045941
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 10/20/2006

Appellant challenged his conviction for rape of an intoxicated person, alleging that the trial court erred when it allowed the prosecutor to introduce evidence of statements the victim made to other individuals hours after the rape, under the spontaneous statement exception to the hearsay rule. The appellate court held that the trial court erred when it admitted the statements under the spontaneous statement exception. The evidence established that the victim had the opportunity to engage in a deliberative process during the time that elapsed between the incident and the statements. However, appellant was not prejudiced by the admission of the statements. It was not reasonably probable that if the court had not allowed the statements, appellant would not have been convicted of rape. The victim testified about the rape at trial, and the statements she made to others were merely cumulative to her testimony. Further, there was a great deal of physical evidence which supported her version of the events. And even if the witnesses had not testified concerning the statements, they could testify concerning the victim’s demeanor. Further, the statements were admissible as “fresh complaints,” to establish that the victim had made a complaint about the rape. Even though they were not admissible for the truth of the matter, the fact that she complained about the rape after its occurrence bolstered her credibility. Appellant also contended that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury with CALJIC 4.35 concerning mistake of fact. He contended that there was evidence that he was under the mistaken belief that the victim was not sufficiently intoxicated to be unable to resist the act, and the court hindered his defense by failing to so instruct the jury. The appellate court rejected his argument, holding that a finding of mistake would not have negated the fourth element of the offense, that appellant knew or reasonably should have known that the victim was unable to resist due to intoxication.