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People v. Bierenbaum

301 A.D.2d 119 (2002)

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People v. Bierenbaum

New York Supreme Court

301 A.D.2d 119 (2002)

Facts

Robert Bierenbaum (Robert) (defendant) was charged with the second-degree murder of Gail Katz Bierenbaum (Gail). At trial, the State of New York (plaintiff) introduced circumstantial evidence to support the theory that after Gail requested a divorce, Robert killed Gail, piloted a plane over the Atlantic Ocean, and discarded her remains. The state presented evidence that Robert was the last one who saw Gail alive, made several inconsistent statements, and omitted the fact that he had rented a plane on the day of her disappearance. The state introduced testimony from one of Robert’s psychiatrists who had sent a Tarasoff letter to Gail, warning her that Robert was dangerous. The state also introduced witnesses who testified that Gail was afraid of Robert because he frequently threatened her and had choked her unconscious. The witnesses also testified that Gail was prepared to divorce Robert and expose the Tarasoff letter if he failed to agree to her divorce demands. Following the trial, Robert was convicted. Robert appealed on evidentiary grounds. Robert argued that the witnesses’ testimony about his prior violence should not have been admitted into evidence. Additionally, Robert argued that (1) the guilty verdict was not supported by sufficient evidence, (2) allowing the psychiatrist to testify about the Tarasoff letter was unfairly prejudicial, and (3) allowing the witnesses’ testimony about Gail’s intent to use the Tarasoff letter and about the choking incident constituted inadmissible hearsay.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Marlow, J.)

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