Brief Fact Summary. The Defendant was convicted of murder and child endangerment after 11-month old Melissa Mathes died after being in Defendant’s custody. The child’s injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome. Defendant sought to admit evidence that the injuries may resulted from a fall when the child was in her mother’s custody.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Hearsay statements may be admissible if such statements are found to be sufficiently trustworthy to warrant admissibility.
This Court has held that this standard requires proof that the existence of a contested fact is highly probable rather than merely more probable than not.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Was it an abuse of discretion by the trial court to admit the statements by the three women regarding conversations with the victim’s mother?
Held. Chief Justice McGiverin issued the opinion for the Supreme Court of Iowa in holding that the affidavits were admissible hearsay they were sufficiently trustworthy.
Discussion. The court look at the various factors to determine the trustworthiness, including the declarant’s propensity to tell the truth, whether the statements were made under oath, personal knowledge of the declarant, time lapse between the statements and the event, and the motivations to make the alleged statements. The Court noted that the witnesses were credible, that declarant was available to testify, the statement was made shortly after the incident and was made to more than one person, and the declarant had first hand knowledge.