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State v. Corwin, 295 S.W.3d 572 (Mo. App. 2009) (full-text).
Factual Background Edit
Appellant, Jacob Montgomery Corwin, was sentenced by the trial court to ten years in the Missouri Department of Corrections following a jury trial conviction for the unclassified felony of attempted forcible rape.
Appellate Court Proceedings Edit
He appealed based on three points of trial court error, the first of which was the trial court's denial of his request to admit a printout of the victim's Facebook entries. As part of his defense strategy, Appellant tried to suggest there were alternative sources for the victim's injuries, including the notion that she might have fallen down while intoxicated and bruised herself.
When asked how she received the bruises found on her body following the alleged attempted rape, the victim admitted to "guessing" that her bruises were the result of her struggle with Appellant. Appellant's counsel asked the victim if there were other occasions when she had gone out drinking and received unexplained bruises, to which she replied that she did not know. The entries Appellant attempted to admit included posts by the victim where she admitted to drinking and having rough nights, including the appearance of "unexplained bruises" the next day.
“Like other witnesses, the complaining witness in a sex offense case may be impeached by evidence that her general "reputation for truth and veracity" is bad but not ordinarily by proof of specific acts of misconduct.” While the court held appellant's line of questioning regarding whether the victim had received similar bruises following nights of drinking was acceptable and legally relevant, the printout from Facebook was not admissible to impeach the victim on a collateral matter. All of the information posted to Facebook and presented at trial referenced either prior occasions of drinking and bruising or events that took place after the alleged attempted rape. Failing to meet his burden of proving error, the appellate court affirmed the trial court's ruling.