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Appeals court affirms battery conviction of man who murdered his wife

January 1, 2007
A man appealed his Class A misdemeanor battery conviction claiming that his wife, who reported to police that her husband hit her and was murdered before the scheduled trial date, was no longer around for him to confront as his accuser and was the only witness to the battery.

In Albert Boyd v. State of Indiana, No. 03A01-0701-CR-1, the three-judge panel affirmed the trial court's conviction.

The battery charges stemmed from a physical altercation that the defendant-appellant's wife, Ruth Boyd, reported against her husband Albert Boyd on April 23, 2005. Albert's trial was scheduled for March 31, 2006, but on Jan. 31, 2006, Ruth was murdered and the trial was postponed. Albert was convicted of his wife's murder on Aug. 9, 2006, in Bartholomew Superior Court.

A bench trial was held on the battery charge on Dec. 12, 2006. Prior to trial, a hearing was conducted regarding the admissibility of Ruth's April 23, 2005, statement. The trial court concluded that in murdering Ruth, Albert forfeited his right to confront her as a witness against him and waived his right to object to the admission of her statement on hearsay grounds.

In the opinion released today written by Court of Appeals Judge Michael Barnes, the appeals court affirms the trial court's decision citing an Indiana Supreme Court case, Wright v. State, which found that "a party may not take advantage of an error that she commits, invites, or which is the natural consequence of her own neglect or misconduct"

Judge Barnes wrote, "[Albert] may not take advantage of Ruth's inability to testify, which was the natural consequence of his own misconduct-murdering her."

"We see no reason why a defendant, who by his or her own wrongdoing renders a witness unable to testify, would not forfeit the Sixth Amendment right to confront that witness at trial," Judge Barnes wrote. "To hold otherwise would permit a defendant to benefit from his or her wrongful act, which in this case was murdering the witness."
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