I have previously commented about evidence of the victim’s character for violence and specific incidents. To refresh – there are several ways the assault victim’s character for violent behavior can become relevant and admissible in an assault case.
a. The defense puts on opinion testimony about the victim’s violent, threatening, or assaultive non-peaceful character, as part of a self-defense case.
b. The prosecution puts on opinion testimony of the victim’s character for peacefulness.
c. The defense cross-examines a prosecution witness to peacefulness with specific instances of violent behavior to test the witness’s opinion.
d. And as the case below points out, the accused can testify about specific incidents if known to him, and if reasonably close in time or over a lengthy period of time.
Eighth Circuit Considers Admissibility Of Victim’s Prior Threats, Character And Reputation Evidence
In assault with a dangerous weapon prosecution, trial court correctly excluded defendant’s evidence of prior threats made by his victims against others, despite defendant’s self-defense claim, because the defendant failed to show he had personal knowledge of the remote, prior threat, so that it might show the defendant’s state of mind in shooting at victim under FRE 405(b), in United States v. Bordeaux, __ F.3d __ (8th Cir. July 7, 2009) (No. 08-2280).