State v. Larock

In State v. Larock, 196 W. Va. 294, 470 S.E.2d 613 (1996), the defendant had argued that prejudicial evidence with limited probative value had been presented to the jury. In assessing the defendant's contentions, we delineated the following standard of review for Rule 404(b) evaluations: "The standard of review for a trial court's admission of evidence pursuant to Rule 404(b) involves a three-step analysis. First, we review for clear error the trial court's factual determination that there is sufficient evidence to show the other acts occurred. Second, we review de novo whether the trial court correctly found the evidence was admissible for a legitimate purpose. Third, we review for an abuse of discretion the trial court's conclusion that the "other acts" evidence is more probative than prejudicial under Rule 403. See State v. Dillon, 191 W. Va. 648, 661, 447 S.E.2d 583, 596 (1994); TXO Production Corp. v. Alliance Resources Corp., 187 W. Va. 457, 419 S.E.2d 870 (1992), aff'd, 509 U.S. 443, 113 S. Ct. 2711, 125 L. Ed. 2d 366 (1993); State v. Dolin, 176 W. Va. 688, 347 S.E.2d 208 (1986)." (196 W. Va. at 311, 470 S.E.2d at 629-30.) In State v. Larock, the Court noted that "the balancing of probative value against unfair prejudice is weighed in favor of admissibility and rulings thereon are reviewed only for an abuse of discretion." 196 W. Va. at 312, 470 S.E.2d at 631. The Court "applies a reasonableness standard and examines the facts and circumstances of each case." Id. Further, the Court "reviews disputed evidence in the light most favorable to its proponent, maximizing its probative value and minimizing its prejudicial effects." Id. The Court explained the standard of review for a Rule 404(b) of the West Virginia Rules of Evidence issue as follows: "The standard of review for a trial court's admission of evidence pursuant to Rule 404(b) involves a three-step analysis. First, we review for clear error the trial court's factual determination that there is sufficient evidence to show the other acts occurred. Second, we review de novo whether the trial court correctly found the evidence was admissible for a legitimate purpose. Third, we review for an abuse of discretion the trial court's conclusion that the "other acts" evidence is more probative than prejudicial under Rule 403." (196 W.Va. at 310-11, 470 S.E.2d at 629-30.)