COA: Testimony would have restricted jury’s ability to decide

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man’s conviction of voluntary manslaughter after it found the trial court did not err in restricting the testimony of an expert witness for the defense.

Timothy Jimerson was charged with murder after his DNA came up as a match in a cold case investigation of a murder that happened in 1992. During his trial, he presented expert witness Dr. Richard Leo on false testimonies, and Leo talked about false testimonies in general and questioning and interrogation techniques. After being asked if he had watched Jimerson’s interrogation video, the defense counsel said “and there was a point where,” and the prosecution objected.

After dismissing the jury, the trial court said Leo could testify about false confessions and problematic practices in them, but it was up to the trial court to determine if any of the problematic practices happened. Leo said he saw some of the risk factors he talked about in the police interview with Jimerson, but the trial court said that invaded too much in to the jury’s decision-making.

Jimerson appealed and said the trial court interpreted too narrowly the three cases it relied on to make its decision to restrict the witness’ testimony, Callis v. State, 684 N.E.2d 233, 239 (Ind. Ct. App. 1997); Miller v. State, 770 N.E.2d 763, 772 (Ind. 2002); and Shelby v. State, 986 N.E.2d 345 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013).

The COA in an opinion written by Judge L. Mark Bailey said the jury could have decided for itself if the testimony was false based upon the video, and audio and written copies of the investigation it received. Jimerson also testified he was “very scared” when giving his answers and offered his side of the events that happened.

“As such, the jury had been given adequate information to apply its common knowledge and experience. Where a jury is able to apply concepts without further assistance, highlighting individual exchanges or vouching for the truth or falsity of particular evidence is invasive,” Bailey wrote.

The case is Timothy J. Jimerson v. State of Indiana, 52A02-1510-CR-1538.

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