Hernandez v. State

In Hernandez v. State, 976 P.2d 672, 676 (Wyo. 1999), an aggravated assault case, the Court considered whether the admission of victim impact testimony constituted plain error. The Court said: Before evidence can be admissible, it must be relevant. Evidence is relevant if it has "any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence." In criminal cases, "evidence is always relevant if it tends to prove or disprove one of the elements of the crime charged." Relevant evidence may be excluded, however, if "its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice." Victim impact testimony must not be permitted "unless there is a clear justification of relevance." For this Court to conclude that the trial court admitted unduly prejudicial evidence in violation of W.R.E. 403, the defendant must demonstrate "that the evidence had little or no probative value and that it was extremely inflammatory or introduced for the purpose of inflaming the jury." The Court applied these standards in Hernandez to hold no error occurred in the admission of testimony from one of the victims concerning the pain and problems he had after being stabbed. The Court said: "although some of the isolated questions and answers may have been irrelevant, taken as a whole, the testimony was relevant as proof of the serious bodily injury element of the crime." Id.