WA Supreme Court: Corpus Delicti Rule Still Has to Bypass Sufficiency Hurdle
Dow was charged with molesting a 3-year-old. The evidence available included the testimony and his statement. The victim was found incompetent to testify. Under the Corpus Delecti rule, the statement can be used against the Defendant in a limited circumstance:
RCW 10.58.035 permits a lawfully obtained and otherwise admissible statement of a defendant to be admitted when independent proof of the crime is absent, the alleged victim is dead or incompetent to testify, and the defendant's statement is found trustworthy based on a nonexclusive set of statutory factors that a trial court must consider.
Here, the statement could be used. However, that doesn't get you a pass to take it to trial. Here, the statement was exculpatory. An exculpatory statement with no other evidence isn't sufficient to convict, and the case was properly dismissed.
Also held: The Corpus Delecti Rule passes constitutional muster.