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Particular Examples of Misconduct, § 904.04(2) — Motive and Intent.

State v. Gordon R. Anderson, Jr., 230 Wis.2d 121, 600 N.W.2d 913 (Ct. App. 1999)
For Anderson: Craig M. Kuhary

Issue: Whether the trial court erred in admitting evidence in this 1st degree homicide trial of a prior sexual assault that resulted in Anderson being sent to prison, as evidence of his motive and intent to kill the deceased so she couldn’t testify against him.

Holding: The prior acts evidence was relevant and not unfairly prejudicial.

The state was allowed to show that in 1994 Anderson had sexually assaulted someone upon whose testimony he was subsequently sent to prison. The court of appeals sustains admissibility of this other acts evidence, under the 3-part test of State v. Sullivan, 216 Wis. 2d 768, 576 N.W.2d 30 (1998): acceptable purpose; relevancy; unfair prejudice. This evidence properly demonstrated motive and intent – to prevent the victim from testifying against him so he wouldn’t have to go to prison again. The two events were sufficiently similar to establish relevance – in each, Anderson met the victim in a bar, drove away to purchase drugs, assaulted her by the roadside, etc. A twice given cautionary instruction (limiting consideration of the prior act to motive and intent) eliminated any possibility of unfair prejudice.

 

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