Lawyer Argues for Exclusion of Canine Evidence
A criminal appeals lawyer for an Aurora man is appealing his 2013 conviction for murder, arguing that the trial court should not have allowed some of the evidence in the trial, The Chicago Tribune reports. A jury convicted the man, Aurelio Montano, of murdering his wife. The wife, Maria Guadalupe, died in 1990. Montano’s lawyer argues that the trial judge should have excluded testimony about the use of dogs to search for the wife’s body. Montano, who is 60 years old, was already serving a prison sentence for two other murders in Aurora in 1996.
Police Dogs Found Rug with Scent of Cadaver, but No Body
Prosecutors charged Montano in 2008 with murdering his wife, Montano family members found a rug buried on the farm where they Aurelio Montano and his wife had lived and worked. Police investigators connected interviews with different family members that seemed to indicate that Montano had disposed of Maria Guadalupe’s body after she vanished. During the trial, the prosecutors also introduced testimony regarding dogs that police used to search for Maria Guadalupe’s body. They testified that the dogs found the scent of a human cadaver on a rug and in the hole where the rug was buried. Testimony from the family indicated that Aurelio Montano may have wrapped Guadalupe’s body in the rug before burying her.
Montano’s lawyer argues that the judge should not have allowed the testimony about the dogs to come before the jury because there was not enough scientific evidence to show that the dogs were able to detect the scent of a dead body. Without such scientific evidence, the lawyer argues, the canine testimony is “unduly prejudicial”—that is, it distorts the jury’s perception of events without really proving anything. He also argued that, because police never found a dead body, there was not sufficient evidence to prove that anyone killed Maria Guadalupe. The state criminal appeals prosecutor argues in response that scientific research has established the ability of trained canines to locate the scent of a cadaver. According to The Guardian, the kind of dogs used to investigate Maria Guadalupe Montano’s disappearance cannot naturally detect the scent of a cadaver; police canine trainers must teach them how to do it.
When Courts Allow Prejudicial Evidence, Defendants can Appeal
Rule 403 of the Illinois Rules of Evidence states: “Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.” In Illinois, a defendant may appeal a criminal conviction to the Illinois Appellate Court. On appeal, the convicted person’s lawyer may point out any errors that may have significantly affected the defendant’s rights in the original trial. This includes occasions where the trial judge violated rules of evidence by allowing testimony which the judge should have excluded. If the judge determines that the judge should have excluded the evidence and that the inclusion of the evidence seriously changed the outcome of the trial, the judge can order the trial court to retry the case, or even reverse the conviction.
Contact a Chicago Criminal Appeals Lawyer
If you or someone you know has been wrongfully convicted of a crime, you need expert legal help. Get in touch with an experienced criminal appeals lawyer at Barney & Hourihane today to find out more about your options.
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