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Law School Case Brief

State v. Moen - 309 Ore. 45

Rule:

Or. Evid. Code 803(4) recognizes a hearsay exception for statements made for the purposes of medical diagnosis or treatment. The rule provides: The following are not excluded by Or. Evid. Code 802, the general rule against the admission of hearsay, even though the declarant is available as a witness: (4) Statements made for purposes of medical diagnosis or treatment and describing medical history, or past or present symptoms, pain or sensations, or the inception or general character of the cause or external source thereof insofar as reasonably pertinent to diagnosis or treatment. 

Facts:

The bodies of Hazel Chatfield and Judith Moen were found in Hazel Chatfield's residence on Friday, March 14, 1986, by a neighbor and two friends. Dr. Karen Gunson, the medical examiner, testified that both victims died of gunshot wounds to the head. In addition to the fatal wound to the head, Judith had been shot in the chest after death had occurred. Dr. Gunson also found some bruises and other minor injuries on Judith. The time of death was estimated to be Thursday night or some time before then. The State prosecuted defendant Robnald Moen for murder because he had been seen with Judith on Wednesday evening, March 12, 1986, at approximately 9:30 to 10:00 at a local restaurant. When questioned by police after the crime, Moen had a mark on his left hand and made a statement to the officers that a dog had bitten him. Through a series of transactions, Moen had also been in possession of a .38 caliber revolver known as an RG38s, and the State presented evidence that the bullets that killed the victims came from that weapon. The State's key witness was Kenneth Scurlock, a fellow inmate in the Marion County jail when Moen was arrested, who claimed that Moen  confessed to killing the two victims and described how the homicides had occurred. Scurlock further claimed that Moen said he "wasn't worried about anything because he had taken care of it all." Another inmate, Billy Minor, also testified that Moen was involved in a conversation about women and that Moen said "you just have to know how to take care of them" and made a gesture "like he had a gun." Moen was convicted of the offense of aggravated murder and given the death penalty. He appealed the conviction and requested that his death sentence be vacated.

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Issue:

Was Moen's conviction for murder proper?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The state supreme court affirmed the circuit court's judgment to the guilt phase of the defendant's conviction for aggravated murder. The court reversed and remanded the circuit court's order that imposed the death penalty.  The court held that Moen was not prejudiced by a second indictment under Or. Rev. Stat. § 163.150(1)(b) because the grand jury had already authorized charges of aggravated murder. The court affirmed that statements made by one of the victims to her doctor were admissible under Or. Evid. Code 803(4) because the statements were made for purpose of medical treatment, and were "excited utterances" under Or. Evid. Code 802(2). Evidence of a prior threat by the defendant was relevant under Or. Evid. Code 404(3). In the appeal of his sentence, the court reversed the penalty imposed because of a recent decision that required the trial judge to instruct the jury to consider any mitigating evidence, not only evidence causally related to the charges. The court held that evidence of old and non-violent criminal convictions were relevant concerning Moen's prior criminal conduct under Or. Rev. Stat. § 163.150(1)(b)(B) and dangerousness to society. Transcripts of testimony from prior convictions were properly admitted because they met the criteria under Or. Evid. Code 804(3)(a) as former testimony. Moen's Eighth Amendment challenges were without merit.

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