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United States v. Schnapp

322 F.3d 564 (2003)

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United States v. Schnapp

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

322 F.3d 564 (2003)

Facts

Christopher Schnapp (defendant) operated a store that burned down. After the fire, Jim Schuhmacher, the county fire investigator, walked through the building. There were signs that electrical arcing had started the fire. Schuhmacher told Schnapp that the fire had probably started in the furnace room’s ceiling and removed a light fixture and junction box from that ceiling. The store’s insurance company hired Bill Buxton and his company, Pyr-Tech Inc., to investigate the fire. Buxton was Schuhmacher’s former supervisor and mentor. When Buxton went to investigate the store fire, Schuhmacher went with him. Buxton decided that the fire had been started by a human on the furnace room’s floor. Buxton and Schuhmacher then both wrote reports finding that the fire had been started by a human on the furnace-room floor. Schnapp was charged with arson. During Schuhmacher’s cross-examination at trial, Schnapp’s attorney never asked Schuhmacher about his prior statement that the fire had started in the ceiling or why it was inconsistent with the conclusion in Schuhmacher’s report that the fire started on the floor. When Schnapp testified later, he attempted to testify about Schuhmacher’s prior inconsistent statement that the ceiling was the source location. But the trial court excluded the testimony because Schnapp never gave Schuhmacher an opportunity to explain or deny the statement during cross-examination. Schnapp was convicted of arson and appealed. On appeal, Schnapp argued that Rule of Evidence 613 did not require cross-examining Schuhmacher about the prior inconsistent statement before Schnapp could testify about it.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McMillian, J.)

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