What is the test for admitting or excluding evidence in a murder case?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from The People v. Duran, C060599, No. 07F05893 (Cal. App. 2010):

exercise of discretion in admitting or excluding evidence is reviewable for abuse [citation] and will not be disturbed except on a showing the trial court exercised its discretion in an arbitrary, capricious, or patently absurd manner that resulted in a manifest miscarriage of justice [citation]." (People v. Rodriguez (1999) 20 Cal.4th 1, 9-10.)

Defendant accuses the trial court of making the precise kind of arbitrary and capricious ruling that resulted in a manifest miscarriage of justice. He insists the evidence showed nothing more than his propensity toward violence and was "highly prejudicial in nature." (People v. Henderson (1976) 58 Cal.App.3d 349, 360.) In a reiteration of his relevancy argument, he stresses that the shotgun was not the murder weapon; in fact, as he points out repeatedly, it was in the trunk of the car at the time of the shooting. Thus, in defendant's view, the evidence involved a high degree of prejudice, particularly when coupled with the gang evidence, and was certain to inflame a jury even though it was of minimal probative value. We disagree.

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