Friday, June 6, 2008
Prejudice And Prejudice: New Jersey Court Finds White Supremacist Evidence Admissible In Murder Case
Walter Dille Jr. is on trial in new Jersey for the murder of Cindy Cade, and African-American woman and mother of two. Now, pursuant to rulings by Superior Court Judge Albert Garofolo, jurors will be able to hear evidence about Dille's white supremacist views and his alleged confession to the crime.
The prosecution alleges that Dille walked up to Cade the morning of Dec. 16, 2005, as she was getting out of her car outside the Regal Cinema in the Hamilton Commons shopping center in Hamilton Township. They contend that Dille told Cade to get back in the car and shot her in the head, with Cade dying from a single bullet wound.
While Dille was being booked for the crime, and being asked "routine" questions by Atlantic County Corrections Officer Sean McNally, he allegedly replied, "I just shot a black woman that I don’t even know." Ostensibly, Dille was not given his Miranda warnings before making this confession, but Judge Garofolo nonetheless found the confession admissible because he found that Dille's statement was voluntary did not come during custodial interrogation. See State v. O'Neal, 921 A.2d 1079, 1094-95 (N.J. 2007).
Judge Garofolo also found that several jail letters and drawings Dille composed while in jail which detail his white supremacist views will be admissible at his trial, and the same goes for testimony from his ex-girlfriend, who will allegedly testify to derogatory racial remarks made by Dille. None of this evidence is objectionable on hearsay grounds because the letters, drawings, and statements by Dille are all admissions of a party-opponent (the criminal defendant) under New Jersey Rule of Evidence 803(b)(1). Furthermore, while Dille might have claimed that the probative value of such evidence was substantially outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice under New Jersey Rule of Evidence 403, most courts have held that evidence of racial animus passes the 403 balancing test when a defendant is charged with an allegedly racially motivated crime. See, e.g., United States v. Allen, 341 F.3d 870, 886-87 (9th Cir. 2003) (finding admissible "skinhead and white supremacist evidence includ[ing] color photographs of defendants' tattoos (e.g., swastikas and other symbols of white supremacy), Nazi-related literature, group photographs including some of the defendants (e.g., in “Heil Hitler” poses and standing before a large swastika that they later set on fire), and skinhead paraphernalia (e.g., combat boots, and arm-bands with swastikas)).