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The test of admissibility of the statement of a party accused of a crime, whether made in judicial proceedings or not, is whether they were voluntary.
Wisdom was employed by the victim. Wisdom and his accomplice decided to rob the victim. During the robbery, the victim was beaten. The victim died as a result of the injuries he received during the beating. Wisdom was arrested. Although Wisdom originally denied any involvement with the murder, he eventually requested to speak with the coroner and gave testimony that implicated him. Wisdom asked to speak to the coroner a second time and gave testimony that differed from his first testimony. Wisdom was convicted of the crime of murder in the first degree. Wisdom appealed.
Were Wisdom’s statements admissible?
The court held that because Wisdom’s statements were voluntary, they were admissible. It was always competent to put in evidence the admissions of an adverse party, but such admissions were not conclusive upon the party offering them. Wisdom failed to object to the admission of his testimony before the coroner in the trial court. While evidence that Wisdom refused to touch the victim's body was not admissible as proof that he believed doing so would cause evidence of guilt to appear, it was admissible to show a consciousness of guilt. Although having suspects touch a victim's body was a superstitious test, Wisdom might have been affected by it, and the jury could consider it.