State v. District CourtAnnotate this Case
Martin Vincent Lau was charged with deliberate homicide. Lau claimed that the fatal shooting was an act of self-defense. Lau sought to offer his own out-of-court statement to prove that at the time of the shooting, he knew of specific instances of violence by the victim. The State moved in limine to prohibit Lau from introducing the statement on hearsay grounds. Lau, in turn, argued that the exclusion of his statement would limit his ability to put forth a defense and that he would be required to testify in order to establish his knowledge of specific instances of conduct by the victim. The district court ruled that Lau would be permitted to cross-examine witnesses about the victim's specific acts of violence and Lau’s knowledge of those acts, as contained in his statement. The Supreme Court granted the State’s petition for writ of supervisory control, holding that the Montana Rules of Evidence did not permit Lau to offer his own out-of-court statement in support of his claim of justifiable use of force.