EvidenceProf Blog

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

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Smoking Gun: William Gregory's Jailhouse Statements Should Be Admissible in his Murder Trial

William Gregory has been charged with murdering the mother of his child and her boyfriend and pleaded not guilty this Thursday.  Investigators allegedly detected blood on one of Gregory's sneakers after the two victims were found with gunshot wounds to the head, and they claim that one of the fingerprints found on a 12-gauge shotgun found at the murder scene belonged to Gregory.

The most controversial piece of evidence, however, is a statement another inmate heard Gregory make while he was in jail before the murders on an earlier, unrelated charge.  A little over a month before the murders, Gregory was arrested after a fight and received a letter from Skylar Meekins, the mother of his child, telling him that she no longer wanted to date him unless he got his act together.  After Gregory received this letter, another inmate allegedly heard Gregory threaten to kill Meekins, saying "he was going to shoot her in the head."  Two days after Gregory was released from jail, Meekins started dating Daniel Dyer, the other victim in the case.

Gregory's public defender has claimed that the other inmate should not be able to testify about Gregory's threat because such testimony would constitute hearsay. Florida Evidence Code Section 90.803(18)(a), however, indicates that statements made by a party and offered against him is an admission, an exception to the rule against hearsay.  Thus, for instance, in State v. Rigdon, 621 So.2d 475 (Fla. App. 4 Dist. 1993), the defendant was charged with attempted murder, and the court properly allowed his wife to testify that approximately six weeks before the incident at issue he said once or twice that he was going to shoot her, their baby, and himself to put them all out of their misery because it constituted an admission.   

The same analysis applies here and should ensure that the court is able to hear Gregory's threats.

-CM

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