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


April 5, 2000

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expert rebuttal witness, Ohio R. Evid. 703, Ohio R. Evid. 403, expert testimony, psychological autopsy, Dr. John Wilson, motion in limine, defendant's filings


The State filed this motion to exclude the testimony of psychologist Dr. John Wilson as Plaintiff’s expert rebuttal witness because the State argues that Dr. Wilson’s testimony does not properly rebut evidence presented by the State. The State avers that “a rebuttal witness can only provide testimony in response to new matters introduced by a party opponent” and not to bolster a party’s case in chief. The State claims that Dr. Wilson’s testimony, at least in part, serves the aforementioned impermissible purpose e.g. bolstering the notion that Dr. Sheppard’s inability to recall events from the day his wife was murdered. In this motion the State asserts that Dr. Wilson’s testimony is based almost entirely on facts or data not perceived by him and not admitted in evidence, and would result in prejudice far outweighing any probative value, both of which are prohibited by rules of evidence 703, and 403 respectively. A psychological autopsy performed on Dr. Samuel Sheppard was one of eighteen sources of information of which Dr. Wilson based his testimony. Of the eighteen groups of information which Dr. Wilson relied upon in his testimony, the State asserts that thirteen of the groups of information were not admitted into evidence. Finally the State expressed heavy reservations that a psychological autopsy is relevant or reliable in proving the Dr. Sheppard had post-traumatic stress disorder.