Is Court Testimony of An Eyewitness Who Died Before the Trial Admissible ?
In People v. Smith, 333 Ill. App. 3d 622, 634, 776 N.E.2d 781, 267 Ill. Dec. 409 (2002), the trial court admitted the grand jury testimony of Hodges, who had died prior to the defendant's trial for murder and attempted armed robbery. Smith, 333 Ill. App. 3d at 625, 627.
On What Basis Did the Court Find a Person's Prior Testimony Untrustworthy ?
In People v. Melchor, 376 Ill. App. 3d 444, 450, 875 N.E.2d 1261, 314 Ill. Dec. 974 (2007), the trial court admitted the former testimony of Ortiz, who was the sole eyewitness to identify defendant as the shooter. Melchor, 376 Ill. App. 3d at 445.
The Court found that the codefendant's opportunity to cross-examine was not the same as the opportunity for He had previously testified about the murder at the trial of a codefendant but had died prior to defendant's trial. Melchor, 376 Ill. App. 3d at 445.
the defendant as the motives of the two were not aligned and the codefendant had every incentive to shift culpability away from himself and to defendant. Melchor, 376 Ill. App. 3d at 454-55.
The Court noted that Ortiz's credibility was the key issue and that he was the only link between the defendant and the crime. Melchor, 376 Ill. App. 3d at 454.
In reversing the conviction and remanding for a new trial, we found that "Ortiz's prior testimony was untrustworthy because of: the lack of cross-examination where his testimony was the only link between defendant and the crime; his felony convictions and criminal history; his use of alcohol at the time of the events; and his possible hopes of currying a favor with the State in light of a pending robbery charge." Melchor, 376 Ill. App. 3d at 456.