State v. Rowe

315 N.W.2d 250, 210 Neb. 419 (1982)

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State v. Rowe

Nebraska Supreme Court
315 N.W.2d 250, 210 Neb. 419 (1982)

KL

Facts

Paul Rowe (defendant) was charged with murder and arson related to the death of his wife, Layne Rowe. Firefighters found Layne inside the Rowes’ burning home. Layne had a skull fracture, one of her breasts had been cut off, and an incision had been made from below her sternum through the vaginal area. The fracture was consistent with a hammer blow. Paul admitted that he had cut Layne’s body. Paul stated that after finding Layne’s body at the bottom of the stairs, he had suffered a temporary psychosis and cut Layne’s body to remove a baby he believed she was carrying. At trial, the state introduced photographs of (1) Layne’s body wrapped in a burned blanket; (2) Layne’s mutilated torso; and (3) Layne’s skull fracture as seen during the autopsy. The photograph of Layne’s skull fracture depicted the fracture in a way that could not be explained by words alone, but would lead a layperson to conclude that the fracture was not made by a fall down the stairs. The testimony regarding the photograph made clear that it was taken during the autopsy. Paul argued that the photographs were irrelevant because he had admitted he cut Layne’s body, that the photographs were unduly prejudicial, and that the photograph of the skull fracture lacked a proper foundation because it was unclear when the photograph was taken. The trial court admitted the photographs, and Paul was convicted of murder and arson. Paul appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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