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Wife’s warnings earlier than loss of life can’t be utilized in husband’s homicide trial, prime state court docket guidelines


Criminal Justice

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has dominated {that a} lifeless lady’s earlier warnings that her husband might kill her can’t be used as proof in his retrial for homicide.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled towards prosecutors Thursday, report Courthouse News Service, the Associated Press and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The state supreme court docket dominated that subsequent selections by the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t have an effect on its prior resolution that the statements couldn’t be used as a result of they have been testimonial in nature and never topic to cross-examination.

The resolution implies that prosecutors must retry Mark Jensen of Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, with out communications from his late spouse, Julie Jensen. She died in 1998 after she was poisoned with antifreeze.

Julie Jensen had made multiple statements earlier than her loss of life suggesting that, if she died, police ought to examine her husband.

She left two voicemails with a police officer warning that if she was discovered lifeless, her husband ought to be the primary suspect. She additionally wrote a warning letter that she gave to a neighbor with directions to offer it to police if something occurred to her.

The protection had argued that Julie Jensen took her own life in a way that might focus suspicion on her husband. Prosecutors alleged that Mark Jensen had searched the internet to search out methods to make a loss of life seem like a suicide, and he killed his spouse to be together with his mistress.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s earlier resolution was partly primarily based on Crawford v. Washington, a 2004 Supreme Court case contemplating when a rumour assertion by an unavailable witness can be utilized at trial. The Supreme Court held that such an announcement is inadmissible under the confrontation clause if the assertion is testimonial and the defendant had no prior likelihood to cross-examine the witness.

In the sooner resolution, often known as Jensen 1, the Wisconsin Supreme Court stated the statements have been inadmissible under Crawford, however a trial decide ought to contemplate whether or not the statements could possibly be admitted under the forfeiture-by-wrongdoing doctrine.

That doctrine says a defendant forfeits their constitutional proper to confront a witness when the defendant induced the witness’s unavailability. A trial decide discovered Julie Jensen’s statements admissible under that doctrine, and Mark Jensen was convicted of homicide.

While Mark Jensen’s appeal was pending, the Supreme Court dominated in 2008 in Giles v. California that the forfeiture-by-wrongdoing doctrine applies solely when the defendant induced a witness’s unavailability with the particular intent of stopping the witness from testifying. Federal courts vacated Jensen’s conviction.

Two different subsequent Supreme Court selections addressed exceptions that permit admission of statements given to police to resolve an ongoing emergency and given to 3rd events. Prosecutors argued that these instances made Julie Jensen’s statements admissible at Mark Jensen’s retrial.

In its March 18 opinion by Justice Rebecca Frank Dallet, the Wisconsin Supreme Court stated its confrontation clause evaluation in Jensen 1 nonetheless utilized, and Julie Jensen’s statements couldn’t be used.

In a concurrence, Justice Jill J. Karofsky agreed that Jensen 1 was controlling however stated the previous opinion failed to think about the context through which Julie Jensen made her statements.

“Had this court in Jensen I truly considered that context, it would have recognized that Julie was undeniably a victim of domestic abuse and that prior to her death she lived in terror born of the unimaginable fear that her husband was going to kill her and claim that her death was a suicide,” Karofsky wrote in a concurrence joined one different decide.

Karofsky stated if the state supreme court docket thought of the home abuse in Jensen 1, it will have “possibly reached a different conclusion.”


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