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United States v. Veltmann

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
6 F.3d 1483 (1993)


Elizabeth Veltmann was asphyxiated and killed during a fire in her home. The United States government (plaintiff) accused Chris Veltmann and Elizabeth's husband Carl Veltmann (defendants) of setting the fire to murder Elizabeth and fraudulently collect her insurance proceeds. Chris and Carl's defense was that Elizabeth committed suicide. Contradictory evidence was introduced as to whether Elizabeth was depressed at the time of her death, but the evidence included Elizabeth's undated suicide note, found after her death. Chris and Carl proffered the deposition of Elizabeth's former lover, Carl Engstrom. Engstrom testified Elizabeth needed money, blackmailed him to extort money, and mentioned suicide several times in recent months. An addiction expert testified Elizabeth's references to suicide were evidence of suicidal thinking. The judge ruled Engstrom's deposition was inadmissible on multiple grounds including hearsay. The jury convicted Chris and Carl Veltmann. They appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, arguing the judge erred in excluding Engstrom's deposition.

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