ILNews

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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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