State v. Villanueva-Villanueva

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 04-30-2014
  • Case #: A147918
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Nakamoto, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Edmonds, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

In the absence of overwhelming evidence of guilt, erroneously admitted hearsay evidence that significantly reinforces the declarant's testimony at trial constitutes error requiring reversal of the defendant's conviction.

Defendant appealed a judgment of conviction for unlawful use of a weapon, menacing, attempted first-degree sexual abuse, and fourth-degree felony assault. Defendant argued the trial court erred in allowing admission of hearsay statements that the state offered to rehabilitate the victim's testimony under OEC 801(4)(a)(B). An error is harmless only if there is little likelihood that the error affected the verdict. The state asserts that the trial court’s error in admitting the hearsay statements was harmless because the statements made by the victim to all the witnesses was not in fabricating the domestic violence so that victim could obtain legal immigration status. However, the Court referred to State v. Wood, concluding that in absence of overwhelming evidence of guilt, erroneously admitted hearsay evidence significantly reinforces the declarant’s testimony at trial, and the admission of those statements constitutes error requiring a reversal of the Defendant’s conviction. There was no overwhelming evidence of guilt for the Defendant’s convictions for unlawful use of a weapon, menacing, and attempted first-degree sexual abuse. The Court of Appeals confirmed that the hearsay statements did affect the jury’s verdict based on the lack of a unanimous verdict on all but the fourth-degree assault charge. Convictions for unlawful use of a weapon, ORS 166.220(1)(a), menacing, ORS 163.190, and attempted first-degree sexual abuse, ORS 163.427, reversed and remanded; otherwise affirmed.

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