The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Casias on July 19, 2012.
First-Degree Murder of a Child—Expert Testimony—Videoconferencing—Other Acts Evidence.
Defendant appealed the judgments of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of first-degree murder (causing the death of a child under the age of 12 by one in a position of trust) and knowing or reckless child abuse resulting in death. The judgments were affirmed.
Defendant’s girlfriend left defendant at home with their 7-week-old baby, J.C., who became unresponsive in defendant’s care and died. It was determined that before her death, J.C. had sustained fractures to her skull and rib, hemorrhages in both her retinas, severe swelling of her brain, and bruising on her forehead.
Defendant contended that the trial court erred when it precluded a defense expert from testifying live via videoconferencing equipment. Despite the late endorsement, the court permitted defendant’s expert to testify in person, and the court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant’s request for the expert to testify via videoconferencing.
Defendant also contended that the trial court erroneously admitted evidence that he had, on two occasions, mistreated his daughter A.C. The acts against A.C., however, did not result in serious injury or death to A.C. Because of the dissimilarities between the prior acts against A.C. and the alleged acts against J.C., the prior acts against A.C. were not relevant to prove the culpable mental state element of child abuse resulting in death. Consequently the trial court abused its discretion in admitting them for this purpose. Defendant, however, failed to demonstrate prejudicial error. Therefore, the judgments of conviction were affirmed.
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