EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Court Denies Bond Increase In Child Endangerment Case Despite Text Messages

Adrianna Mendietta is accused of leaving her two-year old daughter locked in a bathroom and has accordingly been charged with endangerment of a child and unlawful restraint and injury to a child.  Police arrested Medietta in a motel last Thursday, and she has since been held on a $100,000 bond.

At a bond hearing in a Texas court on Tuesday, however, the prosecutor sought to have Mendietta's bond increased to $500,000 because she was a flight risk.  The prosecutor claimed that Mendietta was at the motel because she was aware that the police were looking for her; as support for the argument, the prosecutor presented text messages from Mendietta to her husband which told him not to talk to police and advised him to stay away from her location and to avoid a possible trap.

Mendietta's attorney argued that a detective's testimony about these text messages was mostly hearsay and thus could not suport a bond increase.  It appears that these arguments were at least partially accepted by the court, which denied the prosecutor's motion to increase Mendietta's bond.

The argument, however, makes no sense.  The Texas Rules of Evidence, like the Federal Rules of Evidence, hold that statements by party opponents offered against them are admissions and not hearsay.  Here, the prosecutor was clearly trying to introduce the statements (text messages) of a party opponent (Mendietta, the criminal defendant) against her.  Thus, the text messages should have constituted admissions. 

Even were this not the case, it appears that the prosecutor was not seeking to introduce the text messages to prove the truth of the matter asserted in them (that the husband should not talk to the police, etc.), but instead was offering them to prove that Mendietta knew that the police were looking for her.  Thus, the text messages would not have constituted hearsay.



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