State v. LavoieAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's convictions of murder in the second degree, carrying or use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony, ownership or possession prohibited of any firearm, and place to keep loaded firearms other than pistols and revolvers, holding that the trial court erred by admitting into evidence five instances of prior abuse committed by Defendant and erred by not submitting a merger instruction to the jury.
Defendant was convicted of fatally shooting his longtime girlfriend. On appeal, Defendant argued that the circuit court erred by admitting into evidence five instance of prior abuse that were not shown to be followed by a period of separation between Defendant and the decedent. The Supreme Court vacated the convictions, holding (1) the prior bad acts were inadmissible to rebut Defendant's extreme mental and emotional distress defense, the circuit court erred in admitting the prior incidents of misconduct and the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, and the jury was improperly instructed on the use of the prior bad acts; and (2) the circuit court's failure to submit a merger instruction constituted plain error and was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.