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Gassett v. State

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Citation Edit

Gassett v. State, 532 S.W.2d 328 (Tex. Crim. 1976) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

The defendant was convicted of murder and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. At trial, defense counsel attempted to show the bad character of the deceased by offering into evidence his prior arrest record. To rebut this evidence, the State introduced a computer printout prepared by the National Crime Information Center, which showed no arrests or indictments of the deceased. On appeal, the defendant claimed that the admission of such evidence was prejudicial error.

Appellate Court Proceedings Edit

The appellate court reversed on the ground that while the State did produce a witness who testified to the preparation of such data,[1] there was no evidence to indicate that such entries of arrest are made in the regular course of law enforcement business. Without evidence that such records are regularly kept, there is no assurance that these records are reliable. The evidence was therefore held to be hearsay, and the case was remanded for a new trial.[2]


  1. The witness was therefore qualified pursuant to Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann., art. 3737e.
  2. The error was prejudicial since the defense relied heavily on establishing the deceased's bad character to negate malice and show self defense.

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