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Supreme Court of Louisiana.


No. 2017-KK-1698

Decided: October 17, 2017

Writ granted. While this court found in State v. Taylor, 16-1124 (La. 12/1/16), 217 So.3d 283, that testimony is not always required at a hearing held to determine the admissibility of other crimes, wrongs, or acts pursuant to La.C.E. art. 404(B) and State v. Prieur, 277 So.2d 126 (La. 1973), in the present case the nature of the state's allegations failed to establish that the evidence has substantial relevance independent from showing defendant's general criminal character and thus proves a material fact at issue or rebuts defendant's defense. See Taylor, 16-1124, p. 12, 217 So.3d at 292. Although the state alleges the defendant's earlier fight with a third-party is probative of his motive for the shootings, no link between the two is apparent from the limited information provided by the state. In addition, even if the evidence is deemed relevant, it cannot be determined from the information alleged by the state whether the probative value of the evidence is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. La.C.E. art. 403. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's ruling that the other bad acts evidence will be admissible at trial and we remand for further proceedings.

I concur in the order. I write separately to emphasize that, based on the extremely limited information provided by the state, I cannot determine defendant's degree of involvement in the prior incident and how that incident relates to the charges against defendant. Some of the state's allegations may not implicate defendant in prior bad acts committed by him at all, in which case the protections of La. C.E. art. 404(B) and Prieur may not be triggered. State v. Prieur, 277 So.2d 126 (La. 1973). In such case, however, the evidence must still be relevant and is subject to the balancing test provided in La. C.E. art. 403. Thus, what the state characterized as a Prieur hearing may be better construed as an ordinary motion in limine. Regardless, based on the state's showing to date, I cannot find that the evidence is relevant and that its probative value is not substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. I note, however, that nothing precludes the state from seeking a new hearing at which it can provide sufficient evidence for the trial court to perform its crucial function as gatekeeper in this capital trial.