State ex rel. Thomas v. Duncan

In State ex rel. Thomas v. Duncan, 216 Ariz. 260, P 11, 165 P.3d 238, 242 (App. 2007), the court denied relief on the state's petition for special action relief challenging the trial court's refusal to preclude evidence of a car chase. 216 Ariz. 260, PP 2-3, 165 P.3d at 240. The defendant in Thomas had been charged with manslaughter after running a red light at a high rate of speed and colliding with another car, killing its occupant. Id. He claimed that, when he ran the red light, he was being chased by another vehicle and was in fear of his life because the occupants of that vehicle had threatened him. Id. The state argued evidence of the chase was inadmissible because "it went to a statutorily prohibited justification defense." Id. P 3. Although the defendant maintained he had no intention of raising a justification defense, arguing the evidence was "relevant to the mens rea element of reckless manslaughter," the state contended "that by introducing evidence that is relevant to a justification defense, the defendant was raising the defense despite his assertion to the contrary." Id. P 9. The court held that, despite the statutory prohibition of a justification defense in that case, "the trial court may admit evidence tending to show justification in prosecutions for the reckless injury or killing of an innocent third person if that evidence is otherwise admissible for a separate purpose." Id. P 11.