Friday, February 12, 2010

Demonstrative Evidence Video Of Pipe Bomb Tests Was Not Unfairly Prejudicial

From Federal Evidence Review:

"In prosecution for conspiring to make and making a pipe bomb, demonstrative video showing three tests, played at three different speeds, was probative to show the devices were “destructive devices” and were not unfairly prejudicial based on the “bare allegation” that the bombs in the video were significantly different than the charged devices, in United States v. Spoerke, 568 F.3d 1236 (11th Cir. May 22, 2009) (No. 08-12910) The use of demonstrative evidence at trial is normally controlled by the court through FRE 611(a). See FRE 611(a) ACN (noting the rule “covers such concerns as … the use of demonstrative evidence”). However, the admissibility of demonstrative exhibits remains subject to being relevant under FRE 401, challenges of unfair prejudice under FRE 403, and authentication under FRE 901. A recent Eleventh Circuit case highlighted the application of FRE 403 to a demonstrative video in a pipe bomb case.

In the case, a car was stopped for littering. Defendant Spoerke was a passenger in the front seat and defendant Kramer was the driver, along with other passengers. During the stop, the officer observed what appeared to be “improvised explosive devices” in the vehicle. The occupants also appeared to possess suspected burglary tools. When the officer removed the devices and placed them on the vehicle roof, he asked what they were. The defendant responded that “they were ‘pipe bombs’ that they liked to ‘throw . . . in canals and watch . . . explode.’” Upon the discovery of other tools and materials for making a pipe bomb, the occupants were detained for possessing bombs. A bomb squad arrived and deactivated the devices. The driver acknowledged that the bombs were made at his residence. After further consent to search of the vehicle and two residences, defendants Spoerke and Kramer were charged with conspiring to make destructive devices and making one or more destructive devices.

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