Lena returned from work and found her roommate Debra shaking, vomiting, and moaning in pain. Lena quickly drove Debra to a nearby emergency room. On the way to the hospital, Debra said: “Eve did this.”
At the emergency room, a doctor immediately took Debra’s medical history. Debra told the doctor: “A friend gave me some brownies. They tasted a little funny, but I ate them. About ten minutes later, my heart started beating fast, this shaking started, and I had to vomit. Help me!”
A police officer, who had just transported another patient to the emergency room, overheard Debra’s statement. “Who gave you those brownies?” the officer demanded. “We have to make sure he doesn’t give them to anyone else. This could be a bioterrorist attack!” Debra told the police officer, “It was my friend Eve, but I’m sure she’s not a terrorist. She’s just a bad cook.”
Debra then lapsed into a coma; the following day she died of heart failure. An autopsy revealed that Debra had been poisoned with dried venom taken from a Colorado River Toad (Bufo Alvarius). That toad’s venom causes hallucinations, nervous seizures, vomiting, and heart failure.
After a full police investigation, the prosecutor charged Eve with first-degree murder. The prosecutor claims that Eve intentionally poisoned Debra with venom-laden brownies. At trial, the prosecutor plans to introduce the following evidence:
- Lena’s testimony that, on the way to the hospital, Debra said “Eve did this.”
- Debra’s patient chart from the hospital, in which the doctor recorded Debra’s statement that: “A friend gave me some brownies. They tasted a little funny, but I ate them. About ten minutes later, my heart started beating fast, this shaking started, and I had to vomit. Help me!” The emergency room’s head nurse will testify that the hospital has regular guidelines for documenting patient illnesses, and that Debra’s chart complied with those guidelines. The head nurse did not hear Debra’s statement; the doctor who treated him is not available to testify at trial.
- The police officer’s testimony that Debra said “my friend Eve” when asked who gave him the brownies.
- Testimony by Dr. Frank Toad, an expert on animal toxins, that: “In my opinion, the venom of a Colorado River Toad is so poisonous that any food containing this toad’s venom was intended to kill the recipient.” Eve’s attorney has stipulated that the field of animal toxins is an appropriate one for expert testimony and that Toad is qualified in that field.
- Testimony from Eve’s brother, Brett, that Eve has a longstanding habit—dating back to childhood—of collecting and torturing toads.
Apart from the stipulation noted in part (d) above, Eve’s attorney plans to challenge each of these pieces of evidence. Please discuss the specific objections that Eve should raise with respect to each piece of evidence and the likelihood of prevailing on those objections.
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