New Service Rule Applicable to the State Prosecuting Attorney Per Misc. Docket No. 19-012
- "The majority of the court of appeals erred in holding that Appellant failed to preserve error in the exclusion of evidence of Diles's prior convictions, his physical abuse of Castillo, and his gang membership."
- "The majority of the court of appeals erred in holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding evidence of Diles's physical abuse of Castillo, and Diles's gang membership to show that he was the first aggressor, to show the reasonableness of Appellant's apprehension of danger, and to show that Appellant acted in self-defense."
- "The majority of the court of appeals erred in holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding evidence of Diles's physical abuse of Castillo after the State opened up the door to its admission."
Allen and his girlfriend were visiting Castillo and the victim–Castillo's common-law husband. Castillo testified that when Allen became enraged while arguing with his girlfriend, the victim put him in a choke hold and told him to calm down. Allen then shot and killed the victim. Castillo testified that the victim had never beaten her and was "just real laid back." Allen claimed self defense. He testified that he shot the victim when he tried to grab Allen's gun during the struggle. The trial court granted the State's motion in limine and refused to allow Allen to argue during his opening statement that the victim had prior convictions for theft and assault. The trial court also refused to allow testimony that Allen knew the victim was a Crip and had previously beaten Castillo.
The court of appeals held that Allen failed to preserve error regarding the victim's prior convictions because he never made an offer of proof. Similarly, it held that he never made an offer of proof as to the victim's gang membership or Allen's knowledge of it. It held that his gang membership and evidence of abuse toward Castillo was not admissible to show the reasonableness of his fear. It held this evidence showed only character conformity and did not demonstrate that the victim was the first aggressor. It also held that the evidence of the victim's abuse of Castillo was not admissible to impeach her credibility because the victim's relationship to Castillo was collateral to the issue of whether he was aggressive toward Allen. Finally, the court concluded that Castillo's statement that the victim was "laid back" did not create a false impression because that testimony came in during cross-examination.
Allen argues that, when the trial court granted the State's motion in limine, he was not required to then seek admission of the evidence because the trial court had already ruled it inadmissible. He argues that Allen's knowledge of the victim's gang membership and violence toward Castillo was relevant to whether Allen reasonably feared for his life when the victim tried to grab his gun. He also claims he was entitled to impeach Castillo for bias. She had a motive to testify that the victim did not beat her because she wanted revenge against Allen for killing him. Finally, Allen argues that Castillo created a false impression because it was the State who elicited her testimony that the victim was "laid back."