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Criminal Practice – Sex Offense & Indecent Liberties – Evidence – Prior Bad Acts – Too Dissimilar

State v. Beckelheimer. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-07-0411, 13 pp.) (Donna S. Stroud, J.) Appealed from Chatham County Superior Court. (D. Jack Hooks Jr., J.) N.C. App. Click here for the full text of the opinion.

Holding: Beyond the fact that both defendant’s half-brother and the minor victim in this case are males who played video games with defendant at his residence and the characteristics inherent to touching or oral sex, there is little similarity in defendant’s alleged molestation of the victim and his past interactions with his half-brother. The half-brother’s testimony should have been excluded.

There was no physical evidence of the crimes and the state’s case as to the sexual acts was based solely on the testimony of the minor victim. Defendant testified and denied that the acts occurred. Jurors had to decide whether to believe the minor victim or defendant, and the half-brother’s testimony may have assisted them in making their decision against defendant. There is a reasonable possibility that without the error, a different result would have been reached at trial.

Defendant is entitled to a new trial.


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