Originally Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2012, 2:57 pm
Last Updated: Nov. 17, 2012, 2:57 pm
Appeals court upholds conviction in hearsay case
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DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — An appeals court has upheld the conviction of a man found guilty of murder based on hearsay testimony.
The (Decatur) Herald & Review reports William Richter was convicted in 2010 for the 2008 shooting death of his longtime former girlfriend, Dawn Marquis.
At trial, Macon County prosecutors presented hearsay testimony from Marquis' family, friends and coworkers. Ten witnesses testified that Marquis had told them Richter, then 51, was abusive and that he had threatened to kill her.
Prosecutors also played a recording of a conversation between Marquis, 43, and her son in which she told her son she was planning to leave Richter and she believed he was going to kill her.
Richter was sentenced to 75 years in prison. He appealed, saying the judge should not have allowed hearsay testimony because it violated his Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses.
The 4th District Appellate Court upheld the conviction Friday.
Macon County First Assistant State's Attorney Jay Scott said the state's case was based on a 2003 domestic violence statute. The law allows hearsay statements by certain people in a domestic violence case if the person who made the statements is not available to testify.
Scott said it was the first time in Illinois history an appellate court had upheld the use of hearsay in a domestic violence case.
'We are proud to have been able to set the precedent for other state's attorneys to use statements of the victim to prove domestic violence crimes, which will provide a valuable tool for protecting victims and holding offenders accountable,' Scott said.