March 21, 2012

Colorado Court of Appeals - 3-15-12 - People v. Casias

People v. Casias            1˚ Murder - Child Abuse / 404(b) – Knowing and Reckless Crimes           
Facts: A jury convicted Mr. Casias of 1˚ murder of his seven-week old child, J.C. Under C.R.E. Rule 404(b), the trial court allowed evidence that Mr. Casias slapped, shook, and spanked his three year-old daughter, although none of those acts caused serious bodily injury.
Issue: Whether the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the introduction of the acts allegedly committed on A.C., Mr. Casias's daughter?
Held: Yes.
Reasoning: “Other bad acts evidence is admissible to prove a defendant's knowledge or reckless mental state, see 1 Edward J. Imwinkelried, Uncharged Misconduct Evidence § 5:24, at 65–66 & § 5:39, at 115–16 (2009), when, during the course of the bad act(s), (1) the defendant revealed guilty knowledge of a circumstance or risk; (2) the defendant gained direct knowledge of a fact or risk relevant to charged offense; or (3) the defendant learned something which circumstantially provides evidence of knowledge (or recklessness) at the time of the crime; or when (4) other bad act(s) tend to prove the requisite knowledge by virtue of the doctrine of chances. Id. §§ 5:25 to 5:28.” (footnotes omitted) 
The Court of Appeals found only the fourth method, the doctrine of chances, applied. However, the Court of Appeals found the evidence inadmissible even under the doctrine of chances because the resulting injuries to A.C, the three year-old, and J.C., did not prove knowledge or recklessness. Simply put, A.C. did not suffer any serious bodily injury as a result of Mr. Casias’s actions. Thus, how could Mr. Casias know or consciously disregard a substantial risk (recklessly) from those prior acts to A.C. that his conduct here with J.C. would cause the resulting injuries to J.C.? He can’t. Conviction reversed.
>Link to People v. Casias here<

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