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United States v. Scott

United States District Court, D. Idaho

April 30, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
RAYMOND ANTOINE SCOTT, JR., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

B. LYNN WINMILL, Chief District Judge.

Before the Court are the following motions: (1) the Government's Motion in Limine (Dkt. 36); and (2) Defendant Raymond Antoine Scott, Jr.'s Motion in Limine (Dkt. 71). Defendant Scott does not object to the Government's Motion in Limine, so the Court will grant the Government's motion in full. And for the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Scott's motion in limine in part and deny it in part.

ANALYSIS

1. Defendant's Motion in Limine

A. Testimony of Natalia Scott

Scott argues that the Government should not be allowed to call his wife, Natalia Scott, because she has invoked spousal privilege. On April 21, 2015, the defense sent the Government a statement signed by Natalia Scott, stating that she intends to invoke spousal privilege and should not be called as a witness. Having received this notice, the Government has said they will not call her as a witness. The Court therefore finds this issue to be moot.

B. Use of Replicas of Victim's Skull

Scott objects to the Government using replicas of the victim's skull as demonstrative exhibits. The Government intends to use two different replicas with Dr. Howard, the Medical Examiner and Forensic Pathologist for Spokane County. Scott argues that the type of weapon used and the resultant wound are both irrelevant to this case, and the replicas, even if relevant, are more prejudicial than probative. The Court disagrees.

The first exhibit is a replica of the victim's skull made with a 3D printer. The Government intends to use it for demonstrative purposes only. According to the Government, Dr. Howard, the medical examiner who performed the victim's autopsy, will testify that the placement of the wound on the replica skull is the same as that found on the real skull of the victim, William Reich. He will also testify that the wound on the demonstrative skull is the same as that found on the victim. Dr. Howard intends to use this composite skull to help explain to the jury how the murder weapon pierced the victim's skull and to show the location of the wound. The skull is plastic gray.

The second exhibit is a smaller rectangle plastic or resin cast that measures 2 - inches long by 1 ½ inch tall. This cast is a replica made from the skull piece cut from the victim's skull by Dr. Howard. Dr. Howard intends to use this case to show that the injury is consistent with a hatchet or axe, and how the hatchet or axe entered the skull. In addition, Dr. Howard will testify that the hatchet or axe left an impression on the skull. All of this would show the type of weapon used. Dr. Howard has indicated that the 3D skull replica and the cast of the piece of bone cut from the victim's skull will assist him in explaining the cause of death, the nature of the injury causing death, and the type of instrument used to cause that injury.

The Court finds that the skull replicas are relevant. The Government must show that Reich was murdered. Proof that his fatal injury was caused by a hatchet or axe helps establish this element. The manner of the victim's murder also could show whether the killing was done with malice aforethought and premeditation.

More specifically, the Government intends to produce a witness who will testify that the victim before his death told the witness that Scott "cheap-shotted him with an axe." The Government also claims that Scott told other witnesses that he used an axe or hatchet to kill the victim. Therefore, Dr. Howard's testimony that the victim's injury is consistent with an axe or hatchet to the head is directly relevant to the Government's theory of the case. And given that Dr. Howard has indicated that the skull replicas will assist him in explaining his testimony to the jury, the skull replicas are also relevant.

The Court further finds that the exhibits are not unduly prejudicial. They are merely models of the skull, and the Court understands that they "do not contain gore and guts but are very clinical." Gov't Resp., p. 5, Dkt. 72. If anything, such models would seem less inflammatory than actual pictures of the wound. At this juncture, therefore, the Court finds the demonstrative skull replicas are ...


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