Document Type

Davis v. State of Ohio, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Case No. CV96-312322


March 23, 2000

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Robert Bailey, Susan Hayes, Marilyn Sheppard, Ohio R. Evid. 401, Ohio R. Evid. 403, Ohio R. Evid. 404, marital discord, motive, divorce


Memorandum opinion in response to the State’s request to admit into evidence the testimony of Robert Bailey regarding a letter Dr. Sheppard’s mistress, Susan Hayes, sent to Sheppard at Bay View Hospital. The letter was opened by Bailey's wife and then read by Marilyn, who was visibly upset. The Estate objected to this testimony on the grounds that it is irrelevant, unfairly prejudicial pursuant to R. Evid. 401-403, and contains improper character evidence pursuant to R. Evid. 404. The court had already allowed some of this testimony in regard to a motivation theory, but there was no decision as to whether the evidence could be used to indicate why Dr. and Mrs. Sheppard may have been at odds. The State argued that testimony of the extramarital affairs and of Mr. Bailey was necessary for its "marital discord" theory. The State contended that problems in the marriage could have been the reason for an argument that might have escalated into Marilyn’s murder. The court applied temporal restraints on the admissibility of this evidence: it permitted evidence regarding the Susan Hayes affair and divorce discussions that took place from 1952-1954, but did not permit evidence of similar discussions from 1950.