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Appellate Procedure – Harmless Error – Erroneous Admission of Misconduct Evidence (of Uncharged Child Sexual Assault)

State v. Randy Mcgowan, 2006 WI App 80
For Mcgowan: Dianne M. Erickson

Issue/Holding: Wrongful admission of misconduct evidence was reversible error:

¶37      Based on our review, we are not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the admission of Janis’s testimony did not contribute to the verdict. The State’s case was based entirely on various recollections about events that occurred years earlier. [3] The defense disputed many of those recollections and noted the lack of physical evidence of any sort corroborating physical abuse by a large man of a small child. The other acts evidence suggesting that he had sexual contact as a child with another cousin actually attacked McGowan’s character. We cannot say it did not affect the jury’s assessment of McGowan’s character and contribute to the verdict. The State, as the beneficiary of the error, has not proven “‘beyond a reasonable doubt that the error complained of did not contribute to the verdict obtained.’” See id., ¶60 (citation and footnote omitted). For these reasons, we must reverse and remand for a new trial.

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