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Mistrial Declared In Hate-Crime Case

Kootenai County First District Judge John Luster declared the mistrial after the prosecution played a 911 tape in which witness Julie Oliver, a neighbor, offered an opinion on two points that the prosecution must prove. In the 911 tape, Oliver tells the dispatcher that she believes “this is a racist thing,” and also that her neighbor, Requena, was being threatened. Both go to the heart of the case, Luster said, because a malicious harassment charge forces the prosecution to prove, first, that Requena was threatened, and second, that the threat was racially motivated. The 911 tape offered opinions on both before any foundation of evidence had been laid, Luster said. “That is a significant problem,” Luster said. “It’s clearly a violation. A legal error has occurred.” Luster scheduled a new trial for April 12 with a pretrial conference set for April 9/Alison Boggs, SR. More here.

  • Background: Meghann Cuniff's coverage of story here

Question: Did Judge John Luster make the right call in declaring a mistrial?

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D.F. Oliveria
D.F. (Dave) Oliveria joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently is a columnist and compiles the Huckleberries Online blog and writes about North Idaho in his Huckleberries column.

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