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State v. Chapple

Arizona Supreme Court
660 P.2d 1208 (1983)


At his trial for first-degree murder, Dolan Chapple (defendant) asserted a single argument in his defense. He argued that he was not the killer because he was in another state at the time of crime. At dispute in the trial was the testimony of Malcolm Scott and Pamela Buck who testified for the State of Arizona (State) (plaintiff) that Chapple was “Dee,” a person identified by Scott and Buck as present at the scene of the murder. Scott and Buck did not witness the murder but Buck testified that Dee confessed to the murder, telling her that he had “shot that _____ in the head.” At trial, the State sought to admit into evidence color photos showing the victim’s burned body, face and skull, the gunshot entry wound, and close up images of the charred skull and brain matter where the bullet had lodged. Chapple did not contest the cause of death and offered to stipulate to the cause of death at trial. The court admitted the photos into evidence over Chapple’s objection. Chapple was convicted and appealed his conviction, claiming that the court erroneously admitted the photos because the photos were gruesome and inflammatory and prejudiced the jury against him. The State argued that the photos were properly admitted because the photos were relevant to proving the elements of first degree murder, and to show that Dee, who according to Buck’s testimony had confessed to a shooting, had committed the murder. The case was ultimately appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Feldman, J.)

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