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State v. Lotter

Supreme Court of Montana

November 12, 2013

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
JILL MARIE LOTTER, Defendant and Appellant.

SYNOPSIS OF THE CASE

A jury found Jill Marie Lotter guilty of the attempted deliberate homicide of her husband, Mike, after she repeatedly struck him in the head with the claw end of a hammer. Lotter appealed the judgment entered against her, arguing that the District Court erred by excluding expert witness testimony she proposed to present at trial about battered woman syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Lotter also argued the court erred when it admitted the testimony of a firefighter that, when he responded to a 911 call concerning the injured Mike, Mike uttered to him, "This is the third time she has tried to kill me." Mike testified at trial that he did not recall making that statement to the firefighter. Finally, Lotter argues on appeal that her conviction should be reversed due to cumulative error by the District Court.[1]

The Montana Supreme Court held that the District Court did not abuse its discretion when it ruled Lotter had not produced sufficient evidence that she was a battered woman to provide a foundation for the admission of expert testimony on battered woman syndrome and PTSD. The Court ruled that Mike's statement to the firefighter was admissible under M. R. Evid. 801(d)(1)(A), which allows evidence of a statement that is inconsistent with the declarant's testimony at trial, and that Lotter had failed to timely raise a due process argument regarding admission of evidence of the statement. Because the Court rejected Lotter's arguments on the first two issues, it did not address the third issue Lotter raised on appeal.


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