State v. Leistiko

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 07-19-2012
  • Case #: S059191
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Kistler, J. for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

Prior acts are admissible if they are "sufficiently relevant" to show the defendant acted with intent in the charged offense. However, the admissibility of the prior act is dependent on the circumstances. A single act will likely not qualify, but a complex act may qualify.

Defendant petitioned for review of the Court of Appeals' decision affirming the trial court’s judgment, finding him guilty of two counts of first-degree rape, involving separate victims. At trial, the State called a witness who was a "fourth uncharged victim," to testify to Defendant's intent, specifically forcibly compelling sexual intercourse on the other victims. The trial court held the fourth victim’s testimony was admissible and Defendant was found guilty. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's ruling stating the disputed evidence permitted the jury to determine whether Defendant had a plan for sexually accessing women. On review, the Supreme Court held that both the trial court and appellate court erred in admitting the testimony. The Court held that because one woman did not consent to sex, it did not mean the other women did not consent to sex. Secondly, the state may not display intent through similar acts unless the Defendant conceded the act or the jury was specifically instructed on the issue. Finally, there must be a high degree of similarity between the charged and uncharged actions. Since the fourth woman’s testimony was not similar enough, it was inadmissible. Judgment of the Court of Appeals and the circuit court are reversed in part, affirmed in part, and the case is remanded for further proceedings.

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