State v. Beisser

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 08-28-2013
  • Case #: A148833
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Duncan, J. for the Court; Schuman, P.J.; and Wolheim, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under OEC 404(1), a defendant may introduce evidence of victim's character and victim's prior violent acts against defendant when asserting the affirmative defense of self-defense, and when character is an essential element of the charge, claim or defense.

Defendant appealed conviction of two counts of Assault. Count one charged that Defendant assaulted his roommate and count two charged that Defendant assaulted a neighbor. Defendant sought to introduce evidence that he acted in self-defense in count one. The evidence was testimony from Defendant regarding an incident that occurred two days before the crime, involving himself, the victim, and their other roommate. The trial court fully excluded the other roomate's testimony and portions of Defendant's testimony. Defendant claimed the testimony showed that, given the victim's behavior as a whole, a jury could find that Defendant reasonably believed he was acting in self-defense. The Court found under OEC 404(1), evidence of a person's character or trait may be admissible when it is an essential element of the defense. The trial court erred in excluding the evidence because the victim's character was at issue, and the testimony regarding these incidents was probative of that character. Additionally, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in admitting testimony from the arresting officer. The officer explained that Defendant did not want to speak to her. Defendant moved for a mistrial asserting that his right to remain silent was prejudiced by the officer's testimony. The Court found little likelihood that the jury drew any inference adverse to Defendant regarding his right to remain silent. Therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant's motion for a mistrial. Count one reversed and remanded, Count 2 affirmed.

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