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Law School Case Brief

State v. Gilliam - 98-1320 ( La. App. 4 Cir 12/15/99), 748 So. 2d 622

Rule:

An error is harmless when it appears beyond a reasonable doubt that the error complained of did not contribute to the verdict.

Facts:

Defendant appealed his conviction for second-degree murder, arguing that the introduction of two incriminating statements he made while in police detention and while awaiting trial was erroneous and that he would not have been convicted and sentenced to life had they been excluded. The defendant made the first statement in question to police officers after he requested for an attorney. The second statement in question was made to an investigator while awaiting trial.

Issue:

Would the defendant be acquitted if the two incriminating statements were not admitted as evidence?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

Although the Court found the two incriminating statements in question to be inadmissible, the Court held that the errors, which resulted from admitting the statements as evidence, were harmless because there was ample testimony of defendant’s guilt to convict him even without his statements. The Court furthermore noted that there were overwhelming direct uncontroverted eyewitness evidence against defendant. Thus, the Court concluded that the defendant’s conviction was proper.

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