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COA upholds domestic battery conviction

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A trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied a man accused of hitting his live-in girlfriend the opportunity to cross-examine her about a past domestic battery incident, the Court of Appeals concluded.

Matthew Manuel faced several domestic battery and battery charges stemming from an incident involving D.S., with whom he lived for eight years and had a child. He also helped raise her child from a previous relationship. When Manuel saw D.S. delete an email on her computer, and she refused to tell him what she deleted, he got angry and hit her on the forehead with a cell phone. They argued and he ended up throwing the laptop on the floor and hit her on the head with it twice before grabbing D.S. and choking her.

D.S. called 911 when Manuel left the home to take their daughter’s computer to his car.

Manuel was convicted of the four charges, which were all merged into his Class D felony domestic battery conviction.

He claimed on appeal the trial court should have allowed him to ask D.S. more about a domestic battery charge in 2005 that was dropped. The state objected because it didn’t know about the specifics of the incident; Manuel argued it was relevant because it related to D.S.’s credibility as a witness. The charges were dropped after D.S. talked to the state, and he wanted to know whether she filed a recantation admitting the abuse never happened. The appellate court concluded that evidence of D.S.’s recantation was precluded under Ind. Evid. R. 608(b).

Manuel also argued the state was improperly allowed to bolster the truthfulness of D.S.’s testimony. The state asked if D.S. had been truthful about what happened in the laptop incident, which came after the defense counsel elicited testimony from D.S. that attempted to impeach her credibility. She gave conflicting answers regarding when Manuel first hit her or whether he went outside during the incident.

“Because the impeachment related to truthfulness, we further conclude that questioning D.S. on re-direct regarding whether she had testified truthfully logically refuted the specific focus of Manuel’s attack,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote. “Thus, the State’s question was properly intended to rehabilitate its witness, rather than bolster her testimony, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the question.”

Finally, the Court of Appeals concluded that the state presented sufficient evidence to support Manuel’s conviction. Even though the two children were not in the same room at the time of the incident, they were present in their bedrooms and one child testified she could hear them arguing and it made her sad. The judges also rejected Manuel’s claim that D.S.’s testimony was incredibly dubious.

 

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  1. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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