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State v. Meister

Court of Appeals of Idaho

March 4, 2014

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
DAVID JOSEPH MEISTER, Defendant-Appellant.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

2014 Unpublished Opinion No. 402

Appeal from the District Court of the Second Judicial District, State of Idaho, Latah County. Hon. Carl B. Kerrick, District Judge.

Judgment of conviction for murder in the first degree and conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree, affirmed.

Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender; Justin M. Curtis and Sarah E. Tompkins, Deputy Appellate Public Defenders, Boise, for appellant.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Jessica M. Lorello, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

GRATTON, Judge

David Joseph Meister appeals from the judgment of conviction entered upon jury verdicts finding him guilty of murder in the first degree, Idaho Code §§ 18-4001, 18-4003, and conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree, I.C. §§ 18-4001, 18-4003, 18-1701. We affirm.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On December 11, 2001, a woman was shot and killed in her home in Moscow, Idaho. In August 2002, police officers interrogated Meister in connection with the victim's death and Meister confessed that he shot the victim in exchange for a $1, 000 payment from the victim's boyfriend. Meister was charged with first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Prior to trial, Meister filed a motion to suppress his confession claiming that his confession was coerced, that it was in violation of Miranda, [1] and that the entire interview was not videotaped. The district court denied the motion. The jury convicted Meister of all charges and Meister appealed. This Court concluded that the district court did not err in admitting evidence of Meister's confession. State v. Meister, Docket No. 30152 (Ct. App. Oct. 1, 2007) (unpublished). However, this Court found that the district court erred by failing to admit evidence of an alternate perpetrator. The State appealed the alternate perpetrator issue to the Idaho Supreme Court. The Supreme Court concluded that the district court erred by applying the wrong standard for admissibility of alternate perpetrator evidence and vacated Meister's conviction and remanded the case for a new trial. State v. Meister, 148 Idaho 236, 220 P.3d 1055 (2009).

Prior to the second trial, the State filed a motion asking the district court to apply the law of the case doctrine and preclude Meister from re-litigating any issue addressed by this Court or the Idaho Supreme Court. The district court granted the motion with respect to the issues addressed by the Supreme Court and denied the motion with respect to the issues addressed by this Court. The district court also applied the law of the case doctrine to all rulings of the district court that were not appealed after the first trial, unless a showing could be made that a decision was clearly erroneous and would work a manifest injustice.

Meister again filed a motion to suppress his confession based on coercion. The district court held a hearing in which Dr. Ofshe provided expert testimony regarding the coercive nature of some interrogation techniques. Dr. Ofshe concluded that Meister's interrogation was psychologically coercive. Even considering Dr. Ofshe's testimony, the district court concluded that based on the totality of the circumstances, Meister's confession was not coerced and denied his motion to suppress his confession.

Thereafter, the State filed a motion in limine to preclude Dr. Ofshe from testifying at trial, claiming that the district court's prior ruling that Meister's confession was not coerced made Dr. Ofshe's testimony irrelevant to any issue before the jury. The district court determined that its previous ruling regarding the voluntariness of Meister's confession would stand; therefore, the court ruled that Dr. Ofshe would be precluded from testifying regarding the voluntariness of Meister's confession. The district court also found that Dr. Ofshe would not be allowed to offer an opinion regarding whether Meister's confession was true or false. However, the court ruled that Dr. Ofshe would be ...


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