State v. Clue
Where the primary purpose of a 911 call was to enable the 911 operator to obtain from the victim the information necessary to meet an ongoing emergency, the victim's statements were not testimonial hearsay. Following a trial to the court, Lascelles Clue was convicted of various crimes on four informations. Clue appealed claiming, inter alia, that there was insufficient evidence to sustain his convictions of home invasion, assault of an elderly person and robbery in the first degree and the court improperly admitted testimonial hearsay in violation of his confrontation clause rights. The Appellate Court disagreed and affirmed the judgments. The evidence was found sufficient to support the challenged convictions. The victim, 79 years old when the home invasion occurred, died before trial and was unavailable to testify. The court did not err in admitting the 911 tape and call transcript into evidence. The recording indicated that the victim was robbed at knifepoint by a man in a black hooded sweatshirt wearing a black mask, who took money and a laptop computer and left on foot. Testimony established that the defendant lived nearby, was familiar with the victim and her home, lied regarding his identity and whereabouts and the victim's laptop was found in his basement with his belongings. A black hooded jacket and mask were found in his car. From the evidence, the court reasonably could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant entered the victim's home, held a knife to her throat, demanded money and took money and a computer from her home. For the confrontation clause claim, the defendant's contentions included that because the victim called 911 after the assailant fled, there was no ongoing emergency and her statements were inadmissible hearsay. However, neither party to the 911 call had any indication during the call that the emergency had subsided. Viewing the call's circumstances objectively, the Appellate Court concluded that nothing in the context or content of the call reasonably would have suggested to the victim that her statements would be used to establish or prove events in a later prosecution of the assailant. Rather, the call's primary purpose was to enable the officer to obtain the information necessary to meet an ongoing emergency. Thus, the victim's statements were not testimonial hearsay.