State v. Wilson
At trial, the burden rests with the state to prove that joinder will not substantially prejudice a defendant and on appeal, the burden rests with the defendant to demonstrate, as stated in the 21012 Supreme Court case of State v. LaFleur, "that joinder was improper by proving substantial prejudice that could not be cured by the trial court's instructions to the jury…" Following a jury trial, Marvin Wilson was convicted of strangulation in the second degree and, in a separate docket, of criminal violation of a protective order. Wilson appealed claiming that the court abused its discretion in consolidating the cases for trial. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgments. Because the evidence in the two cases was cross admissible, the Appellate Court could not say that the court abused its discretion in granting the state's motion for joinder. The evidence submitted in the protective order case was relevant to demonstrate the defendant's consciousness of guilt in the strangulation case. The jury could have found, from evidence indicating that the defendant sent a threatening letter and made telephone calls to the victim directing her to recant her allegations, the defendant attempted to influence her testimony against him. Additionally, the evidence in the strangulation case was relevant to the case regarding the protective order. The jury reasonably could have found the evidence that the defendant previously strangled the victim indicative of his malice toward her and motive for violating the protective order and allegedly tampering with a witness. Even if the evidence were not cross admissible, the defendant could not prevail. He could not establish the requisite harm for either case. First, the defendant stipulated that he contacted the victim on numerous occasions while the protective order was in effect and he was acquitted of a tampering with a witness charge. For the strangulation case, the Appellate Court considered the factors from the 1987 Supreme Court case of State v. Boscarino and determined that the consolidated charges involved discrete, easily distinguishable factual scenarios. Further, the conduct involved in the protective order case was nowhere near as brutal or shocking as in the strangulation case. Trial was not so long or complex as to require severance and the court repeatedly cautioned the jury to consider each charge separately in reaching its verdict.