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NOTICE The text of this opinion can be corrected before the opinion is published in the Pacific Reporter. Readers are encouraged to bring typographical or other formal errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts: 303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Fax: (907) 264-0878 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ALASKA
|TODD E. PORTERFIELD,||)|
|) Court of Appeals No. A-9033|
|Appellant,||) Trial Court No. 4FA-04-103 Civ|
|) O P I N I O N|
|STATE OF ALASKA,||)|
|Appellee.||) No. 2064 October 13, 2006|
Appeal from the Superior Court, Fourth Judi cial District, Fairbanks, Charles R. Pengilly, Judge. Appearances: James M. Hackett, Fairbanks, for the Appellant. Kenneth M. Rosenstein, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, Anchorage, and David W. M rquez, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee. Before: Coats, Chief Judge, and Mannheimer and Stewart, Judges. MANNHEIMER, Judge. Todd E. Porterfield was convicted of first-degree murder and first-degree arson for intentionally starting a fire for the purpose of killing another person.1 One important aspect of the States case against Porterfield was evidence of various statements that Porterfields wife, Michele, made about the arson / homicide to a woman named Diana Knight. Knight was a friend of the Porterfields, and Michele Porterfield talked to her about the crime in the belief that Knight was friendly toward her and her husband. In fact, Knight was cooperating with the police and secretly taping her conversations with Ms. Porterfield.2 Porterfields wife did not testify at his trial. (She was tried separately for her role in the arson / homicide.) However, edited versions of Ms. Porterfields taped statements to Knight were introduced into evidence under the hearsay exception for statements against penal interest.3 Knight also testified about Ms. Porterfields initial, untaped statement to her about these crimes (a statement that Ms. Porterfield made on the day following the arson / homicide).4 In Porterfields direct appeal of his convictions, he argued that his wifes statements to Knight should not have been admitted under the statement against penal interest hearsay exception. And, in the alternative, Porterfield argued that even if his wifes statements were admissible under this hearsay exception, the admission of these out-of-court statements nevertheless violated his right of confrontation under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. We held that Ms. Porterfields out-of-court statements were admissible as statements against penal interest, and we further held that the admission of these statements did not violate Porterfields right to confront the witnesses against him. Porterfield v. State, 68 P.3d 1286, 1288-1291 (Alaska App. 2003). However, one year after we decided Porterfields direct appeal of his convictions, the United States Supreme Court adopted a different interpretation of the confrontation clause. In Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 158 L.Ed.2d 177 (2004), the Supreme Court interpreted the confrontation clause to strictly prohibit the governments use of testimonial hearsay in criminal cases, even though this testimonial hearsay might fit within a recognized hearsay exception, unless (1) the declarant testifies (and is thus available for cross-examination) at the defendants trial or (2) the declarant is shown to be unavailable and the defendant had the opportunity to cross-examine the declarant in a previous proceeding. Id., 541 U.S. at 68, 124 S.Ct. 1374. Based on the Crawford decision, Porterfield filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he renewed his argument that the admission of his wifes out-of-court statements violated his right of confrontation. The superior court denied Porterfields petition, and Porterfield now appeals the superior courts decision. The Supreme Court has not yet provided an explicit definition of testimonial hearsay.5 However, in Crawford, the Supreme Court indicated that while accusatory statements made to government officials are likely testimonial, statements made to a friend or acquaintance are likely not: An accuser who makes a formal statement to government authorities bears testimony in a sense that a person who makes a casual remark to an acquaintance does not. Id., 541 U.S. at 51, 124 S.Ct. at 1364. Courts from around the country have concluded, consistent with this assertion, that when someone makes statements to an informant (a false friend), not knowing that these statements are being relayed to the police, the statements are not testimonial. For example, in United States v. Hendricks, 395 F.3d 173 (3rd Cir. 2005), the Third Circuit concluded that conversations surreptitiously recorded by police wiretaps during the investigation of a drug trafficking and money laundering scheme were more analogous to casual remark[s] to an acquaintance than to formal statements to government officials and that, therefore, these statements were not testimonial for purposes of Crawford. Id. at 181. In addition, the Third Circuit held that even statements made directly to a confidential informant (who was wearing a taping device) were not testimonial since the various defendants and coconspirators [under investigation] ... did not realize that their statements were going to be used prosecutorially; rather, their statements constitute[d] admissions unwittingly made. Id. at 182 n. 9, 183-84. The same result was reached by the Oregon Court of Appeals in State v. Chio Hang Saechao, 98 P.3d 1144 (Or. App. 2004). This case involved hearsay testimony concerning statements made by a co-defendant, while in jail, during a telephone conversation with a friend. (This telephone conversation was secretly being taped).6 The court held that the co-defendants statements were not testimonial for purposes of Crawford. Id. at 1145-46. In United States v. Saget, 377 F.3d 223 (2nd Cir. 2004), the Second Circuit noted that all three of Crawfords formulations of the core meaning of testimonial to wit, (1) ex parte in-court testimony or its equivalent; (2) extrajudicial statements contained in formal testimonial materials like affidavits or depositions; and (3) statements made under a reasonable belief that they would be used at a later trial all dealt with situations where the declarant reasonably expects [at the time the statement is made] that the statement might be used in future judicial proceedings. Crawford, 541 U.S. at 51-52, 124 S.Ct. at 1364; Saget, 377 F.3d at 229. In contrast, incriminating statements made to a police informant are generally made only because the declarant does not believe that the statements will be available to the authorities for use in a criminal prosecution. In Saget, for example, the defendant and his co- conspirator, Shawn Beckham, were engaged in an illegal firearms trafficking scheme.7 Believing that a police informant was actually a friend who was interested in joining their scheme, Beckham made statements to this informant implicating both himself and Saget.8 Beckhams statements to the informant were recorded, and these statements were later admitted at Sagets trial under the hearsay exception for statements against penal interest.9 Beckham was unavailable to testify at Sagets trial,10 and Saget argued that the admission of Beckhams out-of-court statements violated his right of confrontation. But the Second Circuit held that Beckhams statements were not testimonial hearsay because Beckham had not made these statements in a formal interrogative environment, and because Beckham had not been aware that he was speaking to a police informant. Id. at 228-230. Although the Saget court recognized that the Supreme Court had not completely defined the boundaries of testimonial hearsay, the court noted that Crawford at least suggests that the determinative factor ... is the declarants awareness or expectation that his or her statements may later be used at a [criminal] trial.11 The Second Circuit noted that, in the Crawford opinion, the Supreme Court spoke approvingly of the result reached in an earlier case, Bourjaily v. United States, 483 U.S. 171, 107 S.Ct. 2775, 97 L.Ed.2d 144 (1987).12 In Bourjaily, the Supreme Court upheld the admission of a co-conspirators statements (recorded by an FBI informant) against the assertion that the admission of these out-of-court statements violated the defendants right of confrontation.13 Bourjaily was decided under pre-Crawford law, but the Supreme Courts opinion in Davis v. Washington describes the Bourjaily result as being consonant with the interpretation of the confrontation clause that the Supreme Court adopted in Crawford. The Davis opinion declares that the hearsay at issue in Bourjaily was clearly nontestimonial.14 Other cases likewise reach the conclusion that a co- conspirators statements to a government informant are not testimonial for Crawford purposes. See United States v. Underwood, 446 F.3d 1340, 1347 (11th Cir. 2006) (holding that hearsay testimony concerning a co-conspirators recorded statements to a police informant was not testimonial for purposes of Crawford because the co-conspirators statements clearly were not made under circumstances which would have led [the declarant] to believe that his statement would be available for use at a later trial. Had [the declarant] known that [he was speaking to] a confidential informant, it is clear that he never would have spoken to her in the first place.); United States v. Holmes, 406 F.3d 337, 348-49 (5th Cir. 2005) (asserting that statements made by a co-conspirator to a government informant, in furtherance of a conspiracy, are generally non-testimonial and therefore admissible against an accused despite the declarants absence from the trial); United States v. Reyes, 362 F.3d 536, 540 n. 4 (8th Cir. 2004) (explaining that co-conspirator statements made to a government agent are non-testimonial). Porterfields case involves hearsay testimony that was admitted under the hearsay exception for statements against penal interest, rather than the exception for co-conspirator statements. For this reason, the fact that the result in Bourjaily is consistent with Crawfords interpretation of the confrontation clause does not directly answer the issue raised in Porterfields case. But in Davis v. Washington, the Supreme Court stated that the result reached in Dutton v. Evans a case dealing with hearsay statements against penal interest is likewise consonant with Crawfords interpretation of the confrontation clause.15 In Dutton v. Evans, 400 U.S. 74, 91 S.Ct. 210, 27 L.Ed.2d 213 (1970), the Supreme Court upheld the admission of a statement made by one prisoner to another; this statement implicated both the declarant and the defendant in a murder. The Supreme Court held that the admission of this statement did not violate the defendants right of confrontation, even though the declarant was not available as a witness at trial.16 According to the Court, the statement was spontaneous, and it was against [the declarants] penal interest to make it.17 Obviously, Evans was decided under pre-Crawford law. But in Davis v. Washington, the Supreme Court declared that the hearsay in Evans was clearly nontestimonial for purposes of Crawford.18 Given this case law, we readily conclude that the statements made by Porterfields wife to Diana Knight were not testimonial for purposes of Crawford. Michele Porterfield had no knowledge that Knight was cooperating with the police and had agreed to tape record their conversations. Ms. Porterfield had no reason to believe that Knight was anything other than a friend. The evidence showed that Ms. Porterfield confided in Knight because her husband had told her that Knight could be trusted. As we noted in Porterfields direct appeal, In [the] first conversation [i.e., the untaped conversation in which Michele Porterfield first informed Knight that she and Porterfield had killed a man,] and in the following taped conversations, there was no apparent reason for [Michele] Porterfield to fabricate her admissions. ... Even though [Michele] Porterfields account implicated [her husband Todd] Porterfield in the arson and murder, Judge Pengilly found that there was no indication that Mrs. Porterfield minimized her own role or tried to shift blame to Porterfield. Mrs. Porterfield had no reason to believe that her statements to Knight would curry any favor with the police or the State because[, as] Judge Pengilly found[,] she had no reason to anticipate [that her] statements would be relayed to law enforcement. Porterfield, 68 P.3d at 1291. The hearsay testimony concerning Michele Porterfields out-of-court statements to Diana Knight was not testimonial for purposes of the confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment as interpreted in Crawford. Accordingly, the superior court correctly rejected Porterfields claim that he was entitled to post-conviction relief based on Crawford. The judgement of the superior court is AFFIRMED. _______________________________ 1AS 11.41.100(a) (first-degree murder) and AS 11.46.400(a) (first-degree arson). 2These facts are described in more detail in Porterfield v. State, 68 P.3d 1286, 1288 (Alaska App. 2003). 3Id. See Alaska Evidence Rule 804(b)(3). 4Porterfield, 68 P.3d at 1288. 5See Crawford, 541 U.S. at 68, 124 S.Ct. at 1374 (We leave for another day any effort to spell out a comprehensive definition of testimonial. ). 6Chio Hang Saechao, 98 P.3d at 1145. 7Saget, 377 F.3d at 225. 8Id. 9Id. 10Id. 11Id. at 228. 12Saget, 377 F.3d at 229. 13Bourjaily, 483 U.S. at 173-74, 181-82; 107 S.Ct. at 2778, 2782. 14Davis v. Washington, 547 U.S. __, __; 126 S.Ct. 2266, 2275; 165 L.Ed.2d 224 (2006). 15Davis, 547 U.S. at __, 126 S.Ct. at 2275. 16Evans, 400 U.S. at 88-89, 91 S.Ct. at 219-220. 17Id., 400 U.S. at 89, 91 S.Ct. at 220. 18Davis, 547 U.S. at ___, 126 S.Ct. at 2275.
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