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No error in admitting testimony of domestic violence expert

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that the admission of testimony by a domestic violence expert at trial did not violate four of Indiana’s evidence rules, as the defendant argued.

In Brian Otte v. State of Indiana, No. 84A01-1108-CR-356, Brian Otte was convicted of Class D felony residential entry; three counts of Class B misdemeanor battery; Class A misdemeanor criminal mischief; Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated; Class B misdemeanor failure to stop after an accident resulting in damage to unattended vehicle; and being a habitual offender. Otte broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house, beat up her current boyfriend, and hit his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Amos. After leaving, Otte rammed his car into Amos’ several times.

Otte was charged Nov. 15, 2010; on March 15, 2011, he moved for a speedy trial. On April 29, the state moved for a continuance because two police officers would be out of town and unavailable for the May 19, 2011, trial date. Even after offering refunds to the officers for their vacations they would have to reschedule, one officer refused to move his vacation. The trial court granted the state’s motion and reset the trial for June 2.

At trial, after which defense asked Amos about domestic violence allegations she had made against Otte then recanted, the state introduced testimony from Yvonne Creekbaum, a domestic violence expert. She testified that victims of domestic violence routinely recant their stories.

On appeal, Otte challenged the admission of Creekbaum’s testimony and claimed his right to a speedy trial was violated.

The state made multiple attempts to secure the two officers at trial, but one was not amenable to rescheduling the vacation. Given the precedent permitting Criminal Rule 4(D) extensions for witnesses who are out of state and/or on long-planned vacations, the appellate court was satisfied that the extension was justified in the instant case.

The judges also ruled against Otte on his claims that Creekbaum wasn’t qualified under Indiana Evidence Rule 701 to give lay testimony; that Creekbaum was not qualified to be an expert witness under Rule 702; that Creekbaum’s testimony constituted impermissible vouching testimony pursuant to Rule 704(b); and that it was overly prejudicial pursuant to Rule 403.

Judge Nancy Vaidik concurred in result in a separate opinion, noting that she believed Creekbaum’s testimony was admissible under Rule 702 as syndrome evidence to help the jury understand why Amos recanted certain allegations she made against Otte. Battered Women’s Syndrome is a valid scientific theory under Rule 702, she wrote, so Creekbaum’s testimony regarding BWS is admissible.

 

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  1. I will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

  4. I drive through the neighborhood whenever I go to the City-County Building or the Federal Courthouse. The surrounding streets are all two way with only two lanes of traffic, and traffic is very slow during rush hour. I hope that enough money has been allocated to allow for improvement of the surrounding streets.

  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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