Right to Confrontation Violated, Requiring Reversal of Assault Conviction and New Trial
Mr. Vargas was charged with attempted second-degree murder and first-degree assault after allegedly stabbing his wife in the presence of their adult daughter. Neither Mr. Vargas’s wife nor daughter testified at trial. Instead, over defense objection, the prosecution relied upon several statements the wife and daughter purportedly made to others, including a police officer who testified at trial. The jury acquitted Mr. Vargas of attempted second-degree murder but convicted him of first-degree assault.
The Appellate Division reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial, concluding that the officer’s testimony about the daughter’s detailed statements was testimonial hearsay and violated Mr. Vargas’s constitutional right to confront witnesses against him. The error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt because the daughter’s statements and visual demonstration, as recounted by the testifying officer, established the manner of and circumstances surrounding the stabbing.
Anna Jouravleva represented Mr. Vargas