State v. Bruyette

In State v. Bruyette, 158 Vt. 21, 27, 604 A.2d 1270 (1992), the Court examined whether testimony of the defendant's girlfriend about their prior consensual sexual conduct was relevant to identity and therefore admissible as signature evidence under Rule 404(b) when the specific sexual acts were distinct and substantially similar to those perpetrated on the victim of a sexual assault. Id. After establishing that identity was at issue because the victim was blindfolded during the assault, we noted that to admit the testimony as signature evidence, the pattern and characteristics of the prior act "must be so distinctive, in effect, to constitute the defendant's signature." Id. at 27, 604 A.2d at 1273. The Court further articulated the standard saying: "Although the prior acts of the accused and the charged acts do not have to be identical, they must possess common features that make it highly likely that the unknown perpetrator and the accused are the same person. Whereas a few common features that are unique may be sufficient, a larger number of them, less remarkable, but taken together, may also have significant probative value." (Id. at 28, 604 A.2d at 1273.)