Expert Testimony in Arizona Child Abuse Cases

In a recent case before the Arizona Supreme Court, the defendant argued that the lower court improperly prohibited him from presenting expert testimony at his trial for child abuse, kidnapping, and murder. According to the defendant, this mistake was costly enough to warrant a reversal, and he should therefore have another chance to present his defense. Looking at the evidence in the case, the higher court ended up denying the defendant’s appeal, and the lower court’s judgment remained in place.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was originally charged after his three-year-old daughter was killed in 2015. When the daughter originally came to the emergency room for treatment, she had lacerations on her head, infections, a swollen knee, and wounds on her chest. She was also significantly malnourished, and it appeared as though she had been both dehydrated and abused.

The defendant was charged with child abuse, kidnapping, and first-degree felony murder of his daughter. His case went to trial, and a jury unanimously found him guilty. The defendant then promptly appealed.

The Decision

The defendant’s main argument on appeal was that it was unfair for the trial court to keep him from introducing expert testimony at trial. He had hoped to bring in the testimony of a psychologist who would have said that the defendant is significantly mentally disabled, which prohibits him from doing basic things like reading, buying food, and cooking. According to the defendant, this testimony would have shown that he was physically unable to fully protect his daughter.

Reviewing the trial court’s decision to prohibit this testimony, the higher court determined that the defendant’s argument was without merit. The testimony about the disability, said the court, was irrelevant to whether or not the defendant had harmed his daughter. The defendant was not alleging that the disability made him act involuntarily – he was not claiming he had some kind of epileptic fit or unconscious episode that made him hurt the girl. Thus, there was not enough of a connection between the disability and the abuse to find that the trial court had made an error, and the lower court’s judgment should remain in place.

Are You in Need of a Criminal Defense Attorney in Arizona?

At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we stand our ground in the face of tough circumstances because we believe strong legal strategy can make all of the difference when your freedom is on the line. If you or a loved one is facing in Arizona child abuse, the best thing you can do for yourself is call a qualified, aggressive lawyer to make sure you are doing all in your power to fight back. For a free and confidential consultation with our firm, call us today at 480-413-1499. You can also fill out our online form to tell us about your case and have someone reach back out to you as soon as possible.

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