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State v. Mary Spencer
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MAINE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT					Reporter of Decisions
Decision:  1997 ME 76
Docket: KEN-96-67
Submitted on briefs February 26, 1997
Decided April 15, 1997




	[¶1]  Defendant, Mary Spencer, appeals from the judgments entered
in the Superior Court (Kennebec County, Alexander, J.) convicting her of
two counts of vehicular manslaughter in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 203
(1983 & Supp. 1996) and of two counts of (aggravated) operating a motor
vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor in violation of 29
M.R.S.A. 1312-B (Pamph. 1993).  
	[¶2] At the trial, the court admitted, as an excited utterance, a
statement made by defendant's eight-year-old son immediately after the
accident.  The son had been in his mother's vehicle at the time of the
automobile accident and his condition was described as "visibly shaking, very
upset, scared" and "very emotional, just shaking from head to toe, crying,
visibly hysterical." Witnesses testified to his statement "that his mother had
been drinking whiskey all day."  To admit evidence as an excited utterance,
the court must find "'(1) that a startling event occurred; (2) that the hearsay
statement related to the startling event; and (3) that the hearsay statement
was made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by
that event.'"  State v. McLaughlin, 642 A.2d 173, 175 (Me. 1994) (quoting
State v. Walton, 432 A.2d 1275, 1277 (Me. 1981)).  (emphasis omitted);
M.R. Evid. 803(2). 
	[¶3]  In this case, defendant contends that the son's statement does
not relate to the startling event, namely the fatal automobile accident, but
rather relates to his mother's drinking throughout the day.  The court's
implicit finding that the son's statement regarding his mother's behavior
was "related to" the accident was not clearly erroneous.  The son's statement
could reasonably be interpreted as a shorthand expression for the fact that
his mother was drinking at the time of the accident.  The court did not err
in applying the excited utterance rule.
	[¶4]  Finally, our review of the record demonstrates that a trier of fact
rationally could find beyond a reasonable doubt every element of the offenses
charged.  State v. Cotton, 673 A.2d 1317, 1321 (Me. 1996).
	The entry is:
					Judgments affirmed.
Attorneys for State: Attorney for defendant: Andrew Ketterer, Attorney General Mary M. Sauer, Asst. Atty. Gen. Eric F. Wright, Asst. Atty Gen. 6 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333-0006
John D. Pelletier, Esq.
Goodspeed & O'Donnell
P O Box 785
Augusta, ME 04330