Inadmissible evidence leads to new trial

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Court of Appeals today reversed and remanded for a new trial a case in which a defendant was convicted of fraud on a financial institution and identity deception based on documents that should not have been admitted as evidence.

In William J. Speybroeck v. State of Indiana, 20A05-0701-CR-40, Speybroeck appealed his conviction, arguing the state did not properly authenticate business documents pursuant to Indiana Evidence Rule 902(9) and that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting documents into evidence under Indiana Evidence Rule 803(6), the business records exception to the hearsay rule. Speybroeck also appealed whether a retrial is appropriate.

Speybroeck purchased a Kawasaki motorcycle from Maple City Cycle by opening a credit card through the business using the Social Security number and date of birth of his father, Robert, without Robert's permission. William also purchased parts for the motorcycle with the Kawasaki credit card; he never made any payments on the card.

Robert learned that William used his personal information to open an account in his name through HSBC bank and authorized police to investigate William. In October 2004, the state charged William with fraud on a financial institution and identity deception.

Before the jury trial began, William objected to the admissibility of the state's Exhibit 11, which included a notarized affidavit signed Oct. 23, 2006, by a bank employee and numerous documents from Kawasaki. William argued the affidavit wasn't authentic because it didn't indicate how many pages were attached nor did it identify what documents it was authenticating. Computer printouts included in Exhibit 11 were dated a day after the affidavit.

Williams also argued the Kawasaki documents, which included invoices and credit slips used by William, could not be admitted because the affidavit couldn't authenticate how Maple City and Kawasaki conducted its businesses nor could they be admitted because HSBC didn't create them in the ordinary course of its business.

The trial court overruled William's objection and admitted Exhibit 11 into evidence. William was found guilty and sentenced to an aggregate term of 16 years with six years suspended.

The court agreed the affidavit from HSBC bank does not authenticate the attached documents because it never specified which documents it purports to authenticate and it lacks a specific number of pages of documents. The affidavit lacks trustworthiness and does not comply with Rule 902(9) and all non-authenticated documents must be excluded from Exhibit 11, wrote Judge Edward Najam.

HSBC's submission of Kawasaki letters and documents are also not covered by the affidavit because the person recording the documents must do so in the regular course of business and have personal knowledge of the information. None of the Kawasaki documents satisfy Rule 803(6)'s requirements of reliability. Someone at HSBC was required to have personal knowledge of the information contained in the Kawasaki documents.

Because Exhibit 11 should not have been admitted into trial, William's convictions must be reversed, wrote Judge Najam. The state repeatedly used Exhibit 11, so it had to have impacted the judgment. The court remanded for a new trial and cited Ground v. State (Ind. Ct. App. 1998) and Stahl v. State (Ind. 1997).

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  1. Great observation Smith. By my lights, speaking personally, they already have. They counted my religious perspective in a pro-life context as a symptom of mental illness and then violated all semblance of due process to banish me for life from the Indiana bar. The headline reveals the truth of the Hoosier elite's animus. Details here: Denied 2016 petition for cert (this time around): (“2016Pet”) Amicus brief 2016: (“2016Amici”) As many may recall, I was banned for five years for failing to "repent" of my religious views on life and the law when a bar examiner demanded it of me, resulting in a time out to reconsider my "clinging." The time out did not work, so now I am banned for life. Here is the five year time out order: Denied 2010 petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): (“2010Pet”) Read this quickly if you are going to read it, the elites will likely demand it be pulled down or pile comments on to bury it. (As they have buried me.)

  2. if the proabortion zealots and intolerant secularist anti-religious bigots keep on shutting down every hint of religious observance in american society, or attacking every ounce of respect that the state may have left for it, they may just break off their teeth.

  3. "drug dealers and traffickers need to be locked up". "we cannot afford just to continue to build prisons". "drug abuse is strangling many families and communities". "establishing more treatment and prevention programs will also be priorities". Seems to be what politicians have been saying for at least three decades now. If these are the most original thoughts these two have on the issues of drug trafficking and drug abuse, then we're no closer to solving the problem than we were back in the 90s when crack cocaine was the epidemic. We really need to begin demanding more original thought from those we elect to office. We also need to begin to accept that each of us is part of the solution to a problem that government cannot solve.

  4. What is with the bias exclusion of the only candidate that made sense, Rex Bell? The Democrat and Republican Party have created this problem, why on earth would anyone believe they are able to fix it without pushing government into matters it doesn't belong?

  5. This is what happens when daddy hands over a business to his moron son and thinks that everything will be ok. this bankruptcy is nothing more than Gary pulling the strings to never pay the creditors that he and his son have ripped off. they are scum and they know it.