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Witness – Personal Knowledge Requirement, § 906.02 – Computer-Generated Animation

State v. Jeremy Denton, 2009 WI App 78 / State v. Aubrey W. Dahl, 2009 WI App 78For Denton: Paul G. Bonneson
For Dahl: Patrick M. Donnelly

Issue/Holding: Lay witness, who testified to computer-generated animation that attempted to recreate the alleged crime through the eyes of certain witnesses, lacked personal knowledge to undertake this effort:

¶16      As a lay witness, Ambach’s testimony should have been limited to matters of which he had personal knowledge. See Wis. Stat. § 906.02. … Contrary to the State’s assertions, the computer-generated animation was not simply a demonstrative exhibit—like a rough drawing on a chalkboard—used to illustrate a testifying lay witness’s testimony. See Anderson v. State, 66 Wis. 2d 233, 248, 223 N.W.2d 879 (1974). Rather, as Ambach testified at trial, it was intended to depict the State’s three key witnesses’ “memories” and show “what people did.” Thus, the animation combined elements from the testimony of Giovannoni, Hohisel, and Biever with measurements provided by Clapper to produce an animation which summarized the State’s version of what occurred. As a lay witness lacking personal knowledge, Ambach’s testimony to that effect was inadmissible.

 

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