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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In March 2005, Dario Acevedo lived at Cascade Caverns with his girlfriend, Jill Beardsley, a co-owner of the property. On March 2, 2005, Jill died of an accidental aspirin overdose. Following Jill’s death, James Kyle, the other Caverns’ owner, asked Acevedo to move from the property. On March 19, 2005, Acevedo, Kyle, Jeffrey Donofrio and James Mason were working on electrical boxes at the Caverns. The men spread out. Acevedo remained alone with Donofrio. Shortly thereafter, Donofrio was fatally shot. Acevedo claimed the shooting was accidental. Evidence of the relationship between Acevedo and Donofrio was meager. The two were acquaintances, but there was no evidence of any ill will between the two. At trial, the state focused on Acevedo’s actions immediately before and after the shooting to establish his intent to kill Donofrio. Before the shooting, Acevedo appeared upset with Kyle’s request that Acevedo leave the property and take all of the couple’s cats. According to Kelly Beardsly, Jill’s sister, the night before the shooting, Acevedo told her he was afraid he had ingested “too much” methamphetamine. The afternoon of the shooting, Acevedo was observed carrying a canvas case containing a firearm. When asked why he had the firearm, Acevedo stated, “I’m going to get me a couple of cats.” After the shooting, Acevedo claimed he was “just messing around with [the gun] . . . [and] was going to do some target shooting.” Following the shooting, Mason called 911. Because he did not know the address of the Caverns, Mason handed the phone to Acevedo, who disconnected the call. Witnesses further described Acevedo as slowly “shuffling” to the front gates and failing to open the doors wide enough for an ambulance to enter. Acevedo did not testify at trial. Instead, through cross-examination, defense counsel presented Acevedo’s defensive theory that the shooting was accidental, possibly due to the firearm being dropped. A jury convicted Dario Acevedo of Donofrio’s murder. The trial court assessed punishment at life imprisonment. Acevedo appealed. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. Acevedo argued the trial court erred in admitting the expert testimony of: Dr. Michael Arambula regarding the possible effects of methamphetamine use on Acevedo; and investigator Luther Van Landingham regarding the latent prints and gunshot residue evidence. The court reviewed the trial court’s determinations regarding expert qualifications and the admission of expert testimony under an abuse-of-discretion standard of review. Arambula, the court noted, testified that a “hypothetical individual” taking a hypothetical 1,000 milligrams of methamphetamine, a “street dose,” would have 500 milligrams in his system 15 hours later. Acevedo objected to Arambula’s testimony as not probative, irrelevant and speculative. Indeed, the court noted that Arambula had no underlying data or information regarding Acevedo or his methamphetamine use. The court found Acevedo’s objections to be timely. In evaluating expert testimony, the court stated, a trial court must assess whether the expert made an adequate effort to tie the relevant facts of the case to the scientific principles about which he testified. In the present case, the court found that Arambula did not tie the science to the facts of this case. Arambula testified that he did not know any of the particular facts of this case. More specifically, Arambula possessed no information regarding: how much, or precisely what, Acevedo ingested and when; Acevedo’s individual characteristics at the time of the incident; Acevedo’s previous drug use, his tolerance for methamphetamine; or what Acevedo may have eaten during the previous 24 hours. Arambula’s use of hypotheticals unrelated to the facts negated the probative value of his testimony, the court stated. Thus, the court concluded that Arambula’s testimony was merely speculative and thus unreliable and irrelevant. An expert testifying to the effects of methamphetamine on a given individual, the court stated, must know more about the individual and quantity ingested than evidenced by Arambula’s testimony. Accordingly, the court held that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting Arambula’s testimony, because it was unreliable and irrelevant to the case. The court then moved on to harm analysis. During its closing argument, the court noted that the state spent considerable time arguing that Acevedo was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the shooting. The state argued that Arambula’s testimony supplied the motive for the murder. Specifically, the state argued that people under the influence of methamphetamine are “irritable, they’re aggressive, they do things without thinking. . . . The methamphetamine use explains it.” Thus, the court found that the state clearly emphasized Arambula’s testimony to the jury. Arambula was the only witness to testify regarding the effects of methamphetamines and that Acevedo possibly had methamphetamines in his system at the time of the murder. Accordingly, after examining the entire record, the court could not say that Arambula’s testimony “did not influence the jury, or had but a slight effect” and thus did not affect Acevedo’s substantial rights. Next, the court found that while the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the expert testimony of Van Landingham regarding gunshot residue and fingerprint analysis, it abused its discretion in admitting the latent print report, which was prepared by a person not at trial. Because the author of the report was unavailable at trial and Acevedo had no prior opportunity to cross-examine him, the court found that the confrontation clause barred the report’s admission and thus the trial court erred in admitting it. Nonetheless, the court found that the erroneous admission of the latent print report to be harmless error. OPINION:Simmons, J.; Lopez, C.J., and Speedlin and Simmons, JJ.

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