Commonwealth v. Szerlong
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
933 N.E.2d 633 (2010)
On December 13, 2007, Leonard Szerlong (defendant) went into his girlfriend’s home and choked her. On December 21, 2007, Szerlong was charged with assault and battery, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. On January 5, 2008, while Szerlong was still at large, Szerlong and the victim got married at town hall. On January 15, 2008, Szerlong turned himself in. At a preliminary hearing, the victim invoked her spousal privilege not to testify against Szerlong. The prosecution (plaintiff) moved to introduce hearsay statements the victim had made to her sister Ann Marie Johnson and to her close friend Tracy Jordan. Specifically, the victim had told Johnson about the choking incident, and Johnson had reported it to police. Johnson testified that Szerlong and the victim had no plans to marry as of the date of the incident and that when she found out about the marriage after the fact, she was very surprised. As to Jordan, the victim had told Jordan that marrying Szerlong was the only way that she would not have to testify against him. Jordan also testified that the couple was not engaged and had no plans to marry at the time of the incident. The court found that Szerlong had forfeited his rights under the Confrontation Clause because he married the victim intending to enable her use of the spousal-testimonial privilege. The court admitted the victim’s hearsay statements and convicted Szerlong. Szerlong appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Gants, J.)
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