Daniel Cases

Full title: IMOJEAN DANIEL APPELLANT v. COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEE

Court: Supreme Court of Kentucky

Date published: Sep 24, 2020

Facts

In the months leading up to her death in September 2016, forty-two-year-old Joy Turner’s life was turbulent. Her beloved Aunt Eva, whom Joy considered to be a second mother, had recently passed away. Then, in January 2016, Joy’s parents, Michael and Carolyn Turner, forced Joy to leave their home. Their decision to do so was a result of Joy’s lifestyle choices, in particular her abuse of prescription medications.

After Joy left her parents’ home, she was homeless. From January 2016 until late March or early April of 2016, Joy stayed with her then-boyfriend Bobby “B.J.” Thomas, Jr. B.J. told investigating officers that while Joy lived with him, she cried a lot, slept a lot, and stayed in the bedroom most of the time. He believed she was depressed due to her Aunt Eva’s passing. Joy was being treated for anxiety and depression, and her medical records demonstrated she visited her treating physician frequently.

Issues

Court Judgment

In general, any allegation of prosecutorial misconduct must be viewed in the context of the overall fairness of the trial. Commonwealth v. McGorman, 489 S.W.3d 731, 742 (Ky. 2016). To justify reversal, the Commonwealth’s misconduct must be “so serious as to render the entire trial fundamentally unfair.” Soto v. Commonwealth, 139 S.W.3d 827, 873 (Ky. 2004) (quoting Stopher v. Commonwealth, 57 S.W.3d 787, 805 (Ky. 2001) ). In this case, especially because Daniel did not request any relief from the trial court, I cannot hold that the misstatement by the Commonwealth affected the overall fairness of Daniel’s trial to the extent outlined in Soto. As such, I would not reverse Daniel’s conviction on this issue; however, I discuss it to give some guidance for future trial courts and counsel should a similar situation arise in the future.

In conclusion, although I agree with much of the majority’s opinion, I dissent from its holdings regarding the admission of evidence of the shooting in the air incident and the two-dollar bill, as well as its holding regarding the denial of expert funds. Accordingly, I would affirm the judgment of the Breathitt Circuit Court.

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