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Graure v. United States
District of Columbia Court of Appeals
18 A.3d 743 (2011)
A strip club caught on fire while employee Vladimir Djordjevic was working. Djordjevic came out of the club’s back door, severely burned and with smoke and skin coming off his body. Djordjevic was screaming, shouting, and acting frantically. Djordjevic’s coworkers and a law-enforcement officer asked him what had happened. Djordjevic responded that he had seen a man with a gas can and tried to stop him. Shortly after the fire, Djordjevic told one of his coworkers to stay calm, but Djordjevic himself appeared to be in physical shock. Djordjevic began staring off into the distance and stopped responding to questions. Vasile Graure (defendant) was tried for several crimes relating to burning down the strip club. At trial, the court ruled that Djordjevic’s out-of-court statements in the minutes after Djordjevic came out of the burning strip club met the hearsay exception for excited utterances. Djordjevic’s coworkers then testified about Djordjevic’s out-of-court statements. Graure was convicted. Graure appealed, arguing that Djordjevic’s statements were not excited utterances because (1) they were made several minutes after the actual events Djordjevic described and (2) around the time he made the statements, Djordjevic had composed himself enough to tell someone else to stay calm. Graure also claimed that a response to a question could not be an excited utterance.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Thompson, J.)
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