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Appeals court sides with murder defendant in hearsay appeal

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Citing hearsay rules, the Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a trial court’s finding that the state may not introduce into evidence statements that could implicate a man who is facing murder charges.

In  State of Indiana v. Alfonso M. Chavez, No. 45A03-1012-CR-619, the state argued that statements by two co-defendants that implicate Alfonso Chavez should be admitted because neither the Sixth Amendment nor the Indiana Rules of Evidence require exclusion of the evidence. The appeals court disagreed with the state regarding the Rules of Evidence and therefore declined to consider the constitutional relevance of the appeal.

Chavez is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Jason Janek and Kevin Abulhusn, who were fatally shot in 2004. The killings were unsolved until 2010, when two men – David Redmon and Hugh Struss – made statements implicating Chavez and others involved.

According to Redmon, a former co-worker of Alfonso’s brother Mark Chavez, Mark said that Alfonso had shot at least one of the men, and he said he helped Alfonso dispose of the bodies. The state argues that the trial court erred by excluding the statement Mark made to Redmon, and that Mark’s statements should be admissible because he is a party-opponent. The appeals court held that because the state has not alleged that Mark is a co-conspirator, his statements are not of a party-opponent and are therefore inadmissible as hearsay.  

Hugh Struss said that Eric Valdivia told him that Alfonso shot and killed Janek and Abulhusn in the basement of the bar Valdivia owned. The state argued that Valdivia’s statements are admissible because they were an “excited utterance.” But the appeals court held that no indication existed about how much time had passed between the deaths and Valdivia’s statements. Citing Boatner v. State, 934 N.E.2d 184, 186 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010), 934 N.E.2d at 186, the appeals court held that the admission of an excited utterance turns on whether the statement was inherently reliable because the witness was under the stress of a startling event and therefore unlikely to make deliberate falsifications.

The appeals court affirmed the trial court, holding that the state had not shown that trial court abused its discretion by excluding Mark Chavez’s and Valdivia’s statements.

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  • Excitable utterance? ha ha ha
    very very unprofessional for the state of Indiana to think an excited utterance would be valid what they should have gone with is a personal sense impression idiots. Hearsay within Hearsay is inadmissible in Indiana, always has been how many would get arrested if groups of ppl who shared a common hatred for another would make up fallacies?

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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