Wednesday, July 16, 2008

If You Are Killed After Testimony Will Your Voice Be Heard?

With all of the uproar after the US Supreme Court's ruling on the death penalty for child rape, another important ruling was largely ignored.

The case is Giles v. California, where the defendant, Dwayne Giles, admitted shooting his ex-girlfriend, Brenda Avie, but claimed he shot her in self-defense. She was shot 6 times and before the last shot was fired into her analysis of the crime scene indicated that she was on the ground. Allegedly he had his eyes closed the whole time.

Three weeks before Avie was shot to death, she told a cop investigating a domestic violence report that after Giles choked her, he threatened to stab her. These statements are what was at the center of the ruling. They were admitted into the murder trial even though the defendant's attorney was denied the right to cross-examine her.

Yes, you read that right. The defendant was denied the right to cross-examine the women he himself killed.

Here's more information on this case from the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court yesterday threw out the conviction of a man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend because the defendant could not challenge an incriminating account she gave the police weeks before her death. [...]

The case revolved around the Sixth Amendment, which affords people the bedrock right to confront and cross-examine witnesses who give testimony against them. At issue is whether defendants forfeit their confrontation rights by doing harm to people whose statements are introduced in judicial proceedings.

Typically, courts have carved out few Sixth Amendment exceptions, giving leeway only to deathbed statements and to accounts by witnesses who are kept away from the courthouse by defendants seeking to thwart the judicial process.

For me the question is who really denied him those rights. His defense team admitted that it was him. For that reason I absolutely disagree with this court ruling. It wasn't the court who denied him the right or the ability to cross-examine the victim in his murder trial.

Since Giles admitted to shooting the woman whose testimony was thrown out, he will most likely be retried. Unfortunately, this Supreme Court ruling will inspire other criminals and put more lives in danger.

Hat tip: Feministing

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:41 AM   1 comments links to this post


At July 16, 2008 8:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if the genders were reversed and everything else was exactly the same, would the Supreme Court have made the same ruling.



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