656 N.W.2d 835 (Mich.App. 2002), 230381, People v. Bowman
|Citation:||656 N.W.2d 835, 254 Mich.App. 142|
|Opinion Judge:||PER CURIAM.|
|Party Name:||PEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Kevin Dwayne BOWMAN, a/k/a KB, Defendant-Appellant.|
|Attorney:||[254 Mich.App. 143] Jennifer M. Granholm, Attorney General, Thomas L. Casey, Solicitor General, William A. Forsyth, Prosecuting Attorney, Timothy K. McMorrow, Chief Appellate Attorney, and T. Lynn Hopkins, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for the people. State Appellate Defender (by P.E. Bennett),...|
|Judge Panel:||Before: WHITBECK, C.J., and BANDSTRA and TALBOT, JJ.|
|Case Date:||November 15, 2002|
|Court:||Court of Appeals of Michigan|
Submitted Aug. 7, 2002, at Grand Rapids.
Released for Publication Feb. 20, 2003.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Defendant appeals as of right his jury convictions of first-degree murder, M.C.L. § 750.316, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, M.C.L. § 750.227b. We affirm.
I. Basic Facts and Procedural History
This case arises from the murder of a midlevel Grand Rapids area drug dealer found shot to death in his apartment. Forensic evidence admitted at trial indicated that the victim had been shot several times at close range while asleep in his bed. However, no evidence of forced entry into the apartment, which was generally secured by a deadbolt, was found.
Evidence offered at trial indicated that on the eve of his death the victim was in possession of a large amount of cash and cocaine and was alone in the apartment with defendant, who, despite being described as the victim's "shadow," was considered [254 Mich.App. 144] an "outsider" in a tightly knit group of associates centered around the victim. After the murder, defendant gave to the police and several individuals a number of inconsistent accounts regarding his whereabouts at the time of the murder. Defendant also began uncharacteristically spending money and was observed wearing more expensive clothing than usual. At about that same time, defendant was arrested and jailed for reasons unrelated to the murder and, while in jail bragged to a fellow inmate that he had killed someone who had "disrespected" him. Defendant
further related details of the killing that were consistent with the victim's murder but that only the killer and those who actually examined the body would have known at that time. Defendant also told the inmate that he had stolen both cash and cocaine in conjunction with the murder.
During the course of the year-long investigation into the murder, defendant spoke with the police on several occasions. Although initially denying any involvement in the killing and theft, defendant ultimately acknowledged that he "may" have shot the victim, but indicated that he must have blacked out because he could not specifically recall the events of that evening. On the basis of this evidence, the jury convicted defendant as stated above. Defendant now appeals as of right, raising allegations of evidentiary and instructional error.
A. Hearsay Concerning Motive and Intent of Others
Defendant first argues that the trial court erred by declining to allow him to present hearsay testimony [254 Mich.App. 145] regarding persons other than himself who may have harbored a motive and intent to kill the victim. Specifically, defendant claims that the court should have admitted testimony that the victim was " upset" after driving from a meeting with a fellow drug dealer to the home of a friend, and that a mechanic who knew the victim heard someone in his automobile repair shop boasting that he had killed a man by shooting him in the head. Defendant claims that the first of these statements was admissible as either a present sense impression or excited utterance under MRE 803(1) or (2), and that the second was admissible as a statement against penal interest under MRE 804(b)(3). We disagree.
We review for an abuse of discretion a trial court's ruling on the admissibility of evidence. People v. Starr, 457 Mich. 490, 494, 577 N.W.2d 673 (1998). With respect to the admissibility of the first challenged statement, a present sense impression is defined under MRE 803(1) as "[a] statement describing or explaining an event or condition made while the declarant was perceiving the event or condition, or immediately thereafter." This Court is not overly literal in construing the phrase "immediately thereafter" and will allow a statement made less than a minute or even several minutes after the event observed to qualify under this exception. See People v. Cross, 202 Mich.App. 138, 142, 508 N.W.2d 144 (1993). However, the statement at issue here was not made merely a few minutes after the conversation being related took place, but following a drive of an indeterminate length from one house to another, and then in a separate conversation with someone not present during the first conversation. To call such an account a "present sense impression" is [254 Mich.App. 146] to rob the phrase of its meaning, and we will not interpret the language of this evidentiary rule in a sense so contrary to its " 'fair and natural import.' " See People v. Morey, 461 Mich. 325, 330, 603 N.W.2d 250 (1999), quoting People ex rel Twitchell v. Blodgett, 13 Mich. 127, 168 (1865) (Cooley, J.). Accordingly, we do not conclude that the trial court abused its discretion by declining to admit the subject statement under MRE 803(1).
We similarly find no support for defendant's contention that this testimony was admissible as an excited utterance under MRE 803(2). The excited utterance exception applies only to a statement that arises from a truly " 'startling occasion' " and was " 'made before there has been time to contrive and misrepresent.' " People v. Kreiner, 415 Mich. 372, 378-379, 329 N.W.2d 716 (1982),
quoting People v. Gee, 406 Mich. 279, 282, 278 N.W.2d 304 (1979). In addition to considering whether there was time to fabricate the statement, a court must also consider whether the declarant's emotional state would have permitted such fabrication. People v. Edwards, 206 Mich.App. 694, 697, 522 N.W.2d 727 (1994). Under none of these standards does the statement in question qualify as an excited utterance. Although defendant offered some detail regarding the substance of and circumstances giving rise to the challenged testimony, the fact that one drug dealer was "upset" after seeing another does not suggest any "startling" event. Indeed, we have found the sexual harassment of a corrections officer at work two days before being murdered (allegedly in connection with the harassment) not to have constituted a startling event, McCallum v. Dep't of Corrections, 197 Mich.App. 589, 592-593, 604, 496 N.W.2d 361 [254 Mich.App. 147] (1992) , and have similarly ruled that viewing a daughter's body in an open casket four days after she was murdered is not a startling event that allows the admission of a hearsay statement under MRE 803(2), People v. Lobaito, 133 Mich.App. 547, 558-559, 351 N.W.2d 233 (1984). In light of...
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