State v. Percy

In State v. Percy, 146 Vt. 475, 483, 507 A.2d 955, 960 (1986), a rape case in which defendant claimed amnesia caused by insanity and consent of the victim, three psychiatrists testified for the State that rapists typically claim consent or amnesia. The Court reversed defendant's conviction in part because of the admission of this testimony. The Court concluded that explanations or excuses offered by other rapists were not relevant, and, in any event, the prejudicial effect of the testimony outweighed the probative value because the jury could have convicted defendant because "he fit the mold" and not because of the evidence in the case. Id. The Court recognized that when the defendant puts his sanity in issue, the inquiry "'may take a very wide range . . . . Broadly speaking, his whole life may be canvassed for evidence bearing upon the question; and his ancestry and family history may be investigated.'" Id. at 640, 548 A.2d at 418.