Idaho v. Almaraz, Jr.Annotate this Case
Defendant Hector Almaraz appealed his conviction for first-degree murder based on several evidentiary grounds, arguing that the district court abused its discretion by admitting impermissible character evidence that gang members commit crimes and other violent acts and by admitting improper testimony from a police officer and an expert witness interpreting the security video from the scene of the crime. Defendant also argued that the district court erred in failing to suppress an eyewitness identification due to suggestive procedures, and by precluding an expert from opining to the suggestiveness of a specific eyewitness’ identification. Furthermore, Defendant asserted that the cumulative effect of the errors deprived him of a fair trial, warranting the Supreme Court to remand his case to district court for a new trial. After review of the trial court record, the Supreme Court held that the district court erred in failing to suppress the identification of Defendant as the shooter, and abused its discretion by limiting a defense expert from testifying about the suggestiveness of the specific procedures employed by the police during the eyewitness' interview with police. Nevertheless, the Court found those two errors to be harmless. There was no other abuse of discretion committed by the district court on the remaining evidentiary issues raised by Defendant on appeal and that Court held that his Motion for a New Trial was properly denied. Thus, the Court upheld Defendant's conviction.