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State v. Meeks

    Brief Fact Summary. The defendant, Meeks (the “defendant”), appealed his conviction of First Degree murder, claiming the statements of the victim were hearsay and that he should be afforded the opportunity to confront the victim.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. When a dying victim makes statements to an officer, they are considered to be grounded in truth; a defendant wishing to object, based on the right to confrontation, forfeits that objection.

    Facts. In August of 2001, the defendant went to the home of Christopher Graves (“Mr. Graves”) to find James Green (“Mr. Green”). The defendant demanded an apology from Mr. Green regarding a prior incident where Mr. Green had shut his hand in a door. Mr. Green refused to apologize, and the defendant challenged him to a fight outside. They went outside and fought for about five minutes. After five minutes, Mr. Green stopped fighting, said he was tired, and that he did not want to fight. As Mr. Green was walking away toward his home, the defendant pulled out a gun and began chasing him. When Mr. Green fell to the ground, the defendant shot him. While there were various witness accounts, the defendant sought an appeal based on the admission of the officer’s statement that the dying victim said “Meeks shot me.”

    Issue. Whether the statements of a dying victim can be used when no later Sixth Amendment confrontation will be available?

    Held. Affirmed. The court found it did not need to determine the nature of Mr. Green’s statements, insofar as whether they were testimonial or not, because the defendant forfeited his right to confrontation when he killed the witness.

    Discussion. The Sixth Amendment constitutional right to confrontation is rarely forfeited; however, when a witness has been killed, by the defendant, the defendant has lost that r.


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