Tuesday, October 28, 2014

KYSC - Hughes - Jury Instructions, Age and Burdon of Proof

Hughes v. Commonwealth, 2013-SC-000291, TO BE PUBLISHED – Reversing and Remanding

The Supreme Court held in a 4-3 decision that it was reversible error to introduce a photograph of the 12-year-old female victim of a (consensual) rape. The photograph, showing her with a newborn in her arms, taken in the hospital nine months after the weekend tryst, was completely irrelevant because the defendant admitted having sex with her. The Court also strongly suggested that even though the defendant bore the burden of proof that he believed she was sixteen, that the instruction concerning the defendant's belief should not have contained the phrase: "the burden of proof that he believed she was 16 years of age is on the defendant,". The Court found the phrase that if the jury found that the defendant believed she was sixteen sufficient. 

Paul Sysol represented Mr. Hughes at trial; Gene Lewter of the Appeals Branch represented Mr. Hughes on appeal.

Contributed by Julia K. Pearson