Wednesday, December 4, 2013

State v. Kinney case brief

State v. Kinney case brief summary
171 Vt. 239 (2000)

Defendant appealed kidnapping and sex offense convictions, in District Court, Unit No. 3, Lamoille Circuit (Vermont), arguing error in failing to instruct jury on intoxication, insufficient scienter evidence, and erroneous expert evidence admission. He challenged sentences as excessive and precluded by defense of Vt. Stat. Ann. Title 13, § 2405(b).

Defendant was charged with kidnapping and rape. He argued that the jury should have been instructed regarding the effect of extreme intoxication on his ability to form specific intent.

  • The court agreed that this was error, but not plain error, because defendant's defense theory was that the sex was consensual, not that he was too drunk to think straight. 
  • It was also not plain error to admit an expert's inadmissible evidence on rarity of false reporting of rape, because she had not examined the victim and did not vouch for her truthfulness. 
  • The remaining rape syndrome evidence met the Daubert standard
  • Although Vt. Stat. Ann. Title 13, § 2405(b) provided for mitigated sentences for kidnapping defendants who voluntarily released their victims, the statute applied to jury determinations. 
  • In the case, defendant and the State stipulated to voluntary release, but defendant insisted that the stipulation not be shared with the jury.
The court affirmed verdicts and sentences. Failure to instruct regarding intoxication was not plain error because defendant was not prejudiced, or was admission of expert evidence on incidence of false reporting of rape. Finally, before defendant could have claimed sentencing benefits, he had burden, and failed, to prove voluntary release defense.

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