State v. Strickland
Louisiana Supreme Court
683 So. 2d 218 (1996)
On November 3, 1992, law-enforcement officers responded to a report of a robbery and shooting at a bank. The officers saw Jesse Pinsonneault lying in a pool of blood. Pinsonneault told the officers that he had come to make a deposit at the bank when a man behind Pinsonneault said something to him. When Pinsonneault turned around, the man shot Pinsonneault in the chest and grabbed one of the bank bags in Pinsonneault’s hand. Pinsonneault died from the gunshot wound. Following an investigation into Pinsonneault’s death, law-enforcement officers arrested Lawson Strickland (defendant). Strickland was charged with crimes including first-degree murder and armed robbery. Strickland’s girlfriend, Kimberly Atkins, was also arrested and eventually pleaded guilty as an accessory after the fact of first-degree murder. At Strickland’s trial, the prosecution (plaintiff) introduced letters that Strickland had written to Atkins. In the letters, Strickland described the crimes and told Atkins what she should say to the police. The trial court admitted the letters into evidence over Strickland’s objection, though the court redacted some inflammatory statements and statements about other crimes from the letters before showing them to the jury. Atkins also testified at trial about receiving the letters and discussing the letters on the phone with Strickland. The jury found Strickland guilty, and the trial court sentenced Strickland to death. Strickland appealed directly to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Watson, J.)
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