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United States v. Tony, 948 F.3d 1259 (10th Cir. Jan. 27, 2020)

Jan 27, 2020

The Tenth Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion in excluding evidence of the victim’s use of drugs, because it had been offered for a permissible purpose—namely, to show that the victim was the first aggressor and self-defense.  Rather than remand to the trial court for consideration of an alternative basis for excluding the evidence, the Tenth Circuit vacated the first-degree murder conviction in its entirely, citing the fact that the trial occurred two years earlier, as well as concerns that remand would create a dilemma for the trial court, which would face the temptation to rationalize the exclusion of the evidence on other grounds.