Proving All Elements of Crime Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
The prosecution must prove all elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt:
Under 6 GCA section 404(b), evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts are admissible to show proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.
The Ninth Circuit held that, to be admissible under Rule 404(b), "evidence of prior bad acts and crimes must:
(i) prove a material element of the crime currently charged;
(ii) show similarity between the past and charged conduct;
(iii) be based on sufficient evidence; and (iv) not be too remote in time." United States v. Hinton, 31 F.3d 817, 822 (9th Cir. 1994).
Upon review of the record, the lower court's admission of the 404(b) evidence satisfies the four prongs of the Hinton test.
As to prong one, intent is clearly an element of the charge of aggravated murder. See 9 GCA 16.30 (a)(1) (1993).
It is the People's burden to prove all the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. See 8 GCA 90.21(1993). In Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 112 S. Ct. 475, 116 L. Ed. 2d 385 (1991), the defendant was charged with the death of his infant daughter.
To prove that the death did not occur by accident, the prosecution sought to introduce evidence of battered child syndrome. Id at 68-69; 112 S. Ct. at 479-480. the defendant objected to the prosecutor's proffer of evidence, arguing that he had not asserted that the death was accidental. Id.
The Supreme Court ruled that the evidence was relevant to show intent. Id. at 70, 112 S. Ct. at 481. a defendant's tactical decision to not formally assert the defense of a lack of intent did not relieve the government of their burden of proof. Id. at 69; 112 S. Ct. at 480. Therefore, evidence that went to prove the element of intent was properly admitted in the prosecution's case-in-chief. Id.