The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Glover on Thursday, February 26, 2015.
Facebook—Evidence—CRE 901(b)—Admissions—Expert Testimony.
Defendant was the 36-year-old leader of a street family of homeless and runaway teens and young adults. The dead body of one of the young adults was discovered by the police in a gully next to an apartment complex. Among the victim’s injuries was the severing of one of his fingers.
Jordan Rowland was arrested on the day the body was found, but on an unrelated matter. In his pocket, however, police found the victim’s missing finger. The prosecution’s theory was that Rowland killed the victim at defendant’s behest.
On appeal, defendant contended that the trial court erroneously admitted printouts from his Facebook account of communications relating to the murder. The lead detective testified that he had subpoenaed records of defendant’s Facebook activity, and that Facebook complied with the subpoena and sent the detective compact discs containing the requested records. Therefore, sufficient evidence was presented under CRE 901(b) to conclude that the printouts contained content from Facebook. Additionally, sufficient evidence was presented under CRE 901(b) to permit the jury to conclude that the account belonged to defendant and that he sent the messages contained in the printouts. Further, the statements from defendant’s Facebook were admissions, which is an exception to the hearsay rule. Consequently, the Facebook records were properly admitted.
Defendant also contended that reversal was required because the lead police detective on the case gave unendorsed expert testimony. Here, the detective’s understanding of Facebook and its features does not appear to have been the result of any specialized knowledge; rather, it appears to have been based on an investigation uncovering information, experience, or knowledge common among ordinary people using, or considering the use of, Facebook. Further, any error resulting from the detective’s testimony was neither “obvious” nor “seriously prejudicial.” Therefore, reversal was not required.