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Vermont Supreme Court Upholds Murder Conviction

In State v. Allen Prue, 2016 VT 98 (September 9, 2016), the Vermont Supreme Court upheld a conviction of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and attempted kidnapping following a jury trial.

Issue: Defendant appealed his conviction arguing that the trial court: (1) erroneously permitted the State to introduce his confession; (2) erroneously excluded evidence of his wife’s psychiatric diagnosis; (3) erroneously permitted the State to introduce evidence of his wife’s internet search history; and (4) abused its discretion in denying his motion to continue sentencing so certain witnesses could testify.

Holding: Affirmed. (1) The record supports that Defendant voluntarily waived his Miranda rights prior to giving his confession; and that since there was no intervening event, the initial Miranda warning and waiver remained valid throughout the entire interview. (2) The trial courts analysis and finding that the danger of unfair prejudice outweighed the probative value of his wife’s psychiatric diagnosis was sound and within its discretion. (3) Defendant failed to show that the evidence was more prejudicial than probative or that the judgment was substantially affected by the admission of the evidence of his wife’s internet search history. (4) Trial court’s discretionary ruling denying Defendant’s motion to continue, finding that the value of the testimony did not warrant prolonging an already extremely old case, was sound.

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