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Officer’s inclusion of victim’s statements did not violate Confrontation Clause

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that a police officer’s testimony that incorporated statements from the victim did not violate the defendant’s right to be confronted with the witnesses against him.

Joshua King appealed his felony conviction, in part, on the grounds that the trial court violated his rights under the Confrontation Clause when it admitted testimony of Officer Philip Rossman.

King was found guilty of Class C felony battery, Class A misdemeanor battery as a lesser included offense of the second count of Class C felony battery, and Class D felony strangulation.

In Joshua King v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1204-CR-351, the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction and remanded to the trial court to correct the abstract of judgment for erroneously listing King’s second battery conviction as a Class C felony. The COA found the trial court did not violate King’s rights under the Confrontation Clause. Also, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted recordings of calls King made to the victim from jail. 

On Jan. 30, 2012, Rossman responded to a domestic violence call at an apartment complex. At the leasing office, he met the victim who was still visibly shaken and described the incident. He then went to the apartment to speak to King and retrieve the victim’s 11-month-old son.

At trial, the victim did not take the witness stand, but Rossman testified as to what the victim had told him. King appealed, arguing the police officer’s testimony violated the Confrontation Clause because what the victim said to Rossman was testimonial.

Citing Davis v. Washington, 547 U.S. 813, 822 (2006), the COA noted when the purpose of the interrogation is to enable police to meet an ongoing emergency, the statements are considered non-testimonial and not subject to the Confrontation Clause.

The COA found the victim’s statements to be non-testimonial and admissible because of her demeanor, the proximity in time to the infliction of her injuries, and the immediate possibly of danger to her child.

The court dismissed King’s arguments that the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted statements from the apartment’s assistant manager and the nurse who treated the victim. The court held that any possible error in the admission of that evidence was harmless because the testimony of the two individuals was cumulative of Rossman’s testimony.
 
 

 

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