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Even if trial court erred in allowing use of evidence disclosed on eve of trial, the error was harmless

State v. Tavoris A. Murphy, Sr., 2012AP505-CR, District 4, 2/28/13; court of appeals decision (not recommended for publication); case activity

Murphy argues the circuit court erred when it found good cause for the state’s late disclosure of a letter written by the defendant and ruled the letter would be admissible as rebuttal evidence. (¶¶1, 20, 22). The letter was written to DeKeyser, a defense witness, and outlined DeKeyser’s testimony. (¶¶1, 16). Murphy claims the trial court’s ruling kept the defense from calling DeKeyser and was an important factor in Murphy’s decision not to testify and that the testimony of Murphy and DeKeyser “would have provided an alternative narrative to critical aspects of the inconsistent and compromised testimony of the State’s witnesses….” (¶24).

In a very fact intensive opinion, the court of appeals concludes that even if the letter was inadmissible, the trial court’s error was harmless. (¶22). The court holds the jury already weighed the credibility of the State’s witnesses in light of all of the problems they presented—and the contradictions and convolutions of the state’s case are set out in some detail in the opinion (¶¶2-15). DeKeyser’s and Murphy’s anticipated testimony would not have aggravated those weaknesses and would have added only inconsequential details. (¶25-27). Therefore, Murphy is not entitled to a new trial.

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