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ALTERNATE PERPETRATOR EVIDENCE- TESTIMONY THAT SOMEONE OTHER THAN THE DEFENDANT COMMITTED THE CRIME - MN Bench Book - Trial Procedures & Practices for Judges
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ALTERNATE PERPETRATOR EVIDENCE- TESTIMONY THAT SOMEONE OTHER THAN THE DEFENDANT COMMITTED THE CRIME

From MN Bench Book - Trial Procedures & Practices for Judges

When identity of the perpetrator is at issue, the defendant may present evidence showing that an alternative perpetrator committed the crime[1]. Alternative-perpetrator evidence is admissible if it has an inherent tendency to connect the alternative party with the commission of the crime. [2]. Once the defendant establishes that the evidence has an inherent tendency to connect the alleged alternative perpetrator to the commission of the crime, it is permissible to introduce evidence of a motive of the third person to commit the crime, threats by the third person, or other miscellaneous facts which would tend to prove the third person committed the act, in order to cast a reasonable doubt on the state's case[3]. The defendant may also present evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or bad acts committed by the alleged alternative perpetrator in order to cast reasonable doubt upon the identification of the defendant as the person who committed the charged crime[4]. This evidence is often referred to as reverse- Spreigl evidence[5]. In order for reverse- Spreigl alternative-perpetrator evidence to be admitted, the defendant must, as with all alternative-perpetrator evidence, meet the threshold requirement of connecting the alternative perpetrator to the commission of the crime with which the defendant is charged[6]. If this threshold requirement is not met, the reverse- Spreigl alternative-perpetrator evidence is not admissible[7]. If the threshold requirement is met, the defendant must also show by clear and convincing evidence that the alleged alternative perpetrator participated in the reverse- Spreigl incident[8]. If that showing is made, the trial court must then determine whether the reverse- Spreigl incident is relevant and material to the defendant's case and whether the probative value of the evidence outweighs its potential for unfair prejudice[9].

  1. State v. Blom, 682 N.W.2d 578, (Minn.2004)
  2. State v. Jones, 678 N.W.2d 1, (Minn.2004)
  3. Id
  4. Id
  5. Id
  6. Id
  7. State v. Hawkins, 260 N.W.2d at 159
  8. Woodruff v. State, 608 N.W.2d 881(Minn.2000)
  9. Id