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Criminal Nuggets


Feb 19, 2019

Prior Consistent Statement

Generally, a prior consistent statement of a witness is inadmissible for the purpose of corroborating the witness’s trial testimony. People v. Donegan, 2012 IL App (1st) 102325, ¶ 52. That is so because it is likely to unfairly enhance the witness’s credibility solely because the statement has been repeated.

Illinois Rule Of Evidence 613(c)

Rule 613(c), as amended in 2015, states, in pertinent part, that a prior consistent statement is admissible “for rehabilitation purposes only and not substantively as a hearsay exception or exclusion.” Ill. R. Evid. 613(c) (eff. Oct. 15, 2015).

The plain language of Rule 613(c) precludes the admission of a prior consistent statement as a hearsay exception, including as an excited utterance.

Accordingly, as the State concedes, the protective services testimony about the victim’s prior consistent statement was improperly admitted as an excited utterance.

People v. Baker, 2019 IL App (2d) 160791 (February). Episode 592 (Duration 15:26)

 

Inadmissibility of prior consistent statement trumps hearsay exceptions.

Gist

The victim was defendant’s step sister, who lived with defendant. He chocked and beat her. She was developmentally disabled and worked at Malcolm Eaton Enterprises. ME provided developmental training for disabled adults.

Facts

Her work day was from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

As the victim packed her lunch and prepared for work, defendant began to tease her about her former boyfriend. Defendant’s persistent remarks angered the victim. When the victim told defendant to stop, defendant grabbed her by the throat with his left hand and pushed her against the refrigerator.

As he did so, he squeezed the victim’s throat. When the victim told him to leave her alone, he released his grasp. the victim then went into her bedroom. As she exited the bedroom, defendant grabbed her by the arm.

The victim then entered the bathroom. After she did, defendant slammed the bathroom door so hard he damaged it. Because the door was damaged, defendant obtained some tools, including a pry bar, to repair it. As the victim exited the bathroom, she saw defendant holding the bar and thought he might hit her with it.

Told Them What Happened

She testified that when she arrived at ME she told a nurse and other employees about “what happened.”

She later told a police officer about “what had happened.” The victim never specified what she said about the incident. 

On cross-examination, the victim admitted that she told a police officer that defendant had grabbed her throat twice as opposed to once. She further admitted that she told the officer that defendant pushed her in the chest, causing her to fall into the basement door.

More Details From The Protective Services Guy

When the state asked the adult protective services supervisor and case worker what the victim told him about the incident, defendant objected based on hearsay.

When the trial court overruled the objection, defendant asked for an explanation. The court explained that it was admitting the testimony about what the victim told him as an excited utterance or spontaneous declaration.

Defendant did not object on any other basis.

According to the protective services witness, the victim told him that defendant had lost his temper, screamed at her, and called her names. Defendant then grabbed her throat and shoved her into the refrigerator. She added that when she went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror she could see marks on her throat. When she told defendant about the marks, he responded that the next time he would throw her through a wall.

The victim told him that, when she told defendant that she was going to report the incident at ME, he told her that if she did he would put her belongings on the porch and lock her out.

The Text Message

While the protective services witness was speaking with the victim, she received a text message. She became upset, showed the message to him, and said that it was from defendant.

According to the witness, the message stated that if the victim told the police about defendant she should not return home, because she no longer lived there. 

Issue

On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court plainly erred in admitting the victim’s prior consistent statements through her testimony and that of the protective services witness.

The State responds that (1) the victim’s testimony that she related what happened to third parties did not constitute prior consistent statements, and (2) because the victim’s statement to protective services was an excited utterance, his testimony was admissible, irrespective of whether the victim’s statement was a prior consistent statement.

This Case

Here, defendant asserts that the victim testified that she told the “same story” to others and thus testified to prior consistent statements. However, the victim never testified that she told the “same story.” Rather, she testified that she told others about “what happened.”

She never specified what she said about the incident.

Accordingly, there was no prior statement that was consistent with her testimony. Because there was no prior consistent statement, the victim’s credibility was not unfairly enhanced. Thus, the admission of the victim’s testimony was not error.

Statement To Protective Services Was Admissible Hearsay

We first address whether that testimony may be challenged as a prior consistent statement when it was admissible under an exception to the hearsay rule.

Thus, the State asserted that, because the testimony was properly admitted as an excited utterance, it did not matter whether it was inadmissible as a prior consistent statement. However, at oral argument, the State withdrew its argument. In doing so, the State pointed to Illinois Rule of Evidence 613(c) (eff. Oct. 15, 2015), which it contended now prohibits the admission of a prior consistent statement as substantive evidence under any hearsay exception.

We agree.

Holding

To the extent that People v. Watt held that a prior consistent statement could be admitted as an excited utterance, it is no longer efficacious in light of the subsequent amendment to Rule 613(c). Because the evidence was not closely balanced, it was not plain error.

Illinois Rules Of Evidence

Check out the Illinois Rules of Evidence Resource Page to learn more about Illinois Evidence.

See Also

Original Version of Rule 613 in January 2011

Amended Version of Rule 613 in October 2015

Illinois Rules of Evidence A Color-Coded Guide

People v. Davison, 2019 IL App (1st) 161094 (February). Episode 589 (Duration 15:22) (police course of conduct evidence is kind of fishy)

People v. Felton, 2019 IL App (3d) 150595 (January). Episode 590 (Duration 11:02) (excited utterance evidence was properly admitted in this case with crazy facts)

People v. Hayden, 2018 IL App (4th) 160035 (December). Episode 577 (Duration 7:14) (all kinds of 115-10 statements were admitted against defendant in this case)