State v. Dennis

In State v. Dennis, 216 W.Va. 331, 607 S.E.2d 437 (2004) challenged his convictions of various offenses, including two counts of sexual assault in the second degree, kidnapping and robbery. The alleged victim was the defendant's former girlfriend. One of the assignments of error raised by the defendant related to the admission of evidence of his abusive, harassing and controlling conduct toward the victim in the months prior to the charged offenses. Citing Rule 404(b), the defendant, in Dennis, asserted that the evidence was not relevant to the charges and was overly prejudicial to his defense at trial. The trial court ruled, however, that, inasmuch as the evidence was part of the fabric of the underlying charges, it was outside the customary Rule 404(b) analysis. In Dennis, the Court affirmed the ruling of the trial court and stated: "After carefully reviewing the record, we cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion in finding that the prior acts constituted intrinsic evidence, not subject to Rule 404(b) analysis. While the acts were not part of a "single criminal episode" or "necessary preliminaries" to the charged offenses, it is difficult to conclude that the evidence was not necessary "to complete the story of the crimes on trial" or otherwise provide context to the crimes charged."