State v. Hernandez

815 S.W.2d 67 (Mo. Ct. App. 1991)



In order for evidence to be relevant, it must logically tend to support or establish a fact or issue between the parties.


The victims were driving, and they were hit by a van operated by defendant. One of the victims was killed and the other two were injured. Defendant exhibited signs of intoxication immediately after the accident, and he admitted to having been drinking heavily before the accident. Defendant also had several signs, stickers, and pins which contained statements containing drinking slogans, and which were found in the van. The circuit court convicted defendant of involuntary manslaughter, and of armed criminal action. The appellate court reversed the judgment of the circuit court inasmuch as it convicted defendant of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. The court remanded the case for a new trial for the offense of involuntary manslaughter only.


Did the trial court err in admitting into evidence the signs, stickers, and pins with the statements containing "drinking slogans” found in defendant’s van?




The subject signs, stickers, and pins were irrelevant and should not have been admitted into evidence. The court found that (1) defendant's knowledge of the effect of alcohol on him was not an issue, (2) the drinking slogans were not relevant to the issue of whether defendant acted with criminal negligence, and (3) defendant's reputation was not in issue. The admission of the drinking slogans into evidence was prejudicial because the prosecuting attorney made extensive references to them.

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