Murder in the Ajax Building

 

Time: June 1, 11:55 a.m. Place: room 1601 on the sixteenth floor of the Ajax Building. Room 1601 is a one-room office with one window. Outside the window on the ledge is a pigeon's nest containing freshly laid pigeon eggs. Several feet to the left of the window in room 1601 are two desks with typewriters and swivel chairs. There is also a copying machine several feet to the right of the window. At 11:59 a.m. there are four people in room 1601: Agnes, Belle, Claire, and David. Agnes and Belle are sitting in the swivel chairs at the two desks. Claire is standing on a chair at point C, leaning out the open window. David is at the copying machine. A schematic drawing of the room scene looks like this:

Click to see drawing


    At 12:01 p.m. Claire's body is in the street. There are three possible explanations for Claire's change in position: (1) There was an accident; (2) she committed suicide; or (3) a homicide has occurred. The state decides that the third explanation is the most likely and indicts and tries David for Claire's murder.

    (1) At David's trial the first witness for the prosecution is Scalpel, the coroner. Scalpel testifies that she took possession of Claire's body shortly after arriving on the scene. Scalpel then describes the condition of the body, including the results of an autopsy. Among other things, the autopsy revealed that Claire was not pregnant at the time of her death.

    (2) The second witness for the prosecution is Nosey. Nosey testifies that she works in room 1500 in the Babbo Building, which is directly across the street from the Ajax Building. Room 1500 is on the fifteenth floor of the Babbo Building, which puts it slightly below room 1601 of the Ajax Building. Nosey testifies that from room 1500 of the Babbo Building she has a good view of the window of room 1601 of the Ajax Building. Nosey further testifies that shortly before noon on June 1 she had her back to the window of room 1500 of the Babbo Building. She heard a scream, turned, and saw a body falling. She looked up at the window and saw what appeared to be the face of a man at the window of room 1601 of the Ajax Building. If you were defense counsel in this case, what type of questions would you want to ask Nosey on cross-examination?

    (3) The third witness for the prosecution at David's trial is Officer Kojak. Kojak testifies that he is a member of the municipal homicide squad. He was assigned to investigate Claire's death. As part of his investigation, Kojak spoke to Agnes at 6 p.m. on June 1. Kojak proposes to testify that during this conversation Agnes told him that David shoved Claire, who then fell to her death. Defendant objects. What ruling and why? Is Kojak's proposed testimony hearsay? Should it be admitted anyhow? If it is not hearsay, should it nonetheless be excluded?

    (4) The fourth witness for the prosecution is Belle. Belle testifies that she was in room 1601 at the time Claire fell to her death and that she saw what happened. Belle further testifies that she was interviewed by Kojak at her home at 7 p.m. on June 1. Belle testifies that during that interview she told Kojak that David pushed Claire out the window. Defendant objects and moves to strike. What ruling and why? Is Belle's testimony hearsay? If it is hearsay, should it be admitted anyhow? If it is not hearsay, should it nonetheless be excluded?

    (5) The prosecution offers as People's Exhibit A a document found face up on the copying machine in room 1601 immediately after Claire's fall. The document is identified and authenticated as being in Claire's handwriting. It states:

David,
I will never give in to your pressure. Even though you may be the father of my unborn child, I will not be forced into an abortion that I don't want. I will have the baby and sue you for support.
                            Claire

David objects to the admission of the exhibit. What ruling and why? Is Exhibit A hearsay? If it is hearsay, should it be admitted anyhow? If it is not hearsay, should it nonetheless be excluded?

 



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