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State v. Scarlett

395 A.2d 1244 (1978)

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State v. Scarlett

New Hampshire Supreme Court

395 A.2d 1244 (1978)

Facts

The State of New Hampshire (plaintiff) charged Michael Scarlett (defendant) with sexual abuse of a minor. The prosecution claimed that the abuse occurred on Scarlett’s bed. Scarlett contended that he was not the person who committed the abuse. At trial, the prosecution called a police officer to testify about a picture of an apparently blood-stained bedspread taken from Scarlett’s bed. In doing so, the prosecution showed the picture to the jury. The prosecution had not called a chemist or other expert witness to testify that the stains on the bedspread were in fact blood. Accordingly, the defense objected to the prosecution’s displaying of the picture. The trial judge overruled the objection, likely expecting the prosecution to call an expert witness at some point thereafter to lay a foundation for the picture. However, the prosecution did not call an expert to testify as to what was on the bedspread. Given this failure, the defense moved for a mistrial. The trial judge denied the motion but struck the testimony regarding the bedspread and instructed the jury to disregard having ever seen the picture. The jury convicted Scarlett, and he appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bois, J.)

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