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Johnson v. State

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Evidence keyed to Fisher

Citation. Johnson v. State, 967 S.W.2d 410, 1998 Tex. Crim. App. LEXIS 49 (Tex. Crim. App. Apr. 15, 1998)

Brief Fact Summary. At the murder trial of Arnold E. Johnson (Appellant), the prosecution introduced evidence that implicated Appellant in a previous murder, even though Appellant was ultimately acquitted of that crime. Also during Appellant’s trial, a prosecution witness’s previously recorded statement was read into evidence, despite the witness’s indication that he had no recollection of the events to which his statement referred. At the conclusion of the trail, Appellant was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death; Appellant appeals that conviction here.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. At a defendant’s murder trial, evidence of extraneous offenses for which the defendant was acquitted is inadmissible; also, evidence is inadmissible under the Texas equivalent of Federal Rule of Evidence 803(5) when there is no evidence that a witness had firsthand knowledge of an event and there is no testimony given that the witness’s memory was correctly transcribed or that the factual assertions contained in the statement were true.

Facts. Frank Johnson, Jr. (Victim) was killed during a robbery that allegedly involved Appellant and various other men, one of which was Reginald Taylor (Witness). Witness gave a statement to police following the crime; in the statement, Witness indicated that Appellant was responsible for the murder of Victim.
At trial, the statement of Witness was allowed to be read into evidence, over the objection of Appellant and despite Witness’s trial testimony that he could not remember what he had told police in his statement.
Also at trial, the prosecution introduced evidence that implicated Appellant in a crime for which Appellant had previously been acquitted, namely the 1992 murder of a woman named Olivia Drummond. Again, the evidence was admitted over Appellant’s objection.

Issue. Did the lower court commit reversible error by:
Allowing evidence of a prior offense for which Appellant had been acquitted to be admitted at Appellant’s trial for the murder of Victim?

Allowing the recorded recollection of Witness to be read into evidence at Appellant’s trial, despite Witness’s testimony at trial that he did not remember the events surrounding his statement?

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