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State v. Cornell

842 P.2d 394 (1992)

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State v. Cornell

Oregon Supreme Court

842 P.2d 394 (1992)

Facts

Donald Cornell (defendant) and Mark Pinnell attacked and robbed Randy Brown. Cornell and Pinnell then worked together to attack and rob John Ruffner in a similar way. The two men gagged Ruffner, hog-tied him, wrapped a cord around his neck, and hit him in the ear. Cornell and Pinnell then took some of Ruffner’s possessions, leaving Ruffner behind still tied up and gagged. As they were driving away, Pinnell told a woman in the car that Cornell had hit Ruffner in the ear. The neck cord and the gag asphyxiated Ruffner, killing him. Cornell and Pinnell were arrested and charged with Ruffner’s murder. At Cornell’s trial, the court evaluated 11 out-of-court statements Pinnell made either right before or after the Brown and Ruffner crimes. All 11 statements were made before the pair disposed of all the stolen items. Using a preponderance-of-evidence standard, the court found that (1) Cornell and Pinnell were coconspirators in the robberies of Brown and Ruffner, (2) Pinnell made all 11 statements during the course of the conspiracy, and (3) Pinnell made all 11 statements in furtherance of the conspiracy. Pinnell’s statements were then admitted as evidence against Cornell. Cornell was convicted of murder and appealed, arguing that Pinnell’s statements should have been excluded as inadmissible hearsay. The appellate court affirmed the conviction, and Cornell appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Unis, J.)

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