State v. Martinez

FILE THIS OPINION WAS FILED FOR RECORD AT 8 A.M. ON IN CLERK’S OFFICE NOVEMBER 19, 2020 SUPREME COURT, STATE OF WASHINGTON NOVEMBER 19, 2020 SUSAN L. CARLSON SUPREME COURT CLERK IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON ) STATE OF WASHINGTON, ) ) Respondent, ) No. 97496-9 ) v. ) ) SIMON ORTIZ MARTINEZ, ) ) Petitioner. ) Filed: November 19, 2020 _______________________________) GONZÁLEZ, J.— Under our constitutions, the State bears the burden of proving the criminal charges it brings with reliable evidence. See WASH. CONST. art. I, §§ 9, 22; U.S. CONST. amend. VI. The person charged with a crime has the right to challenge and test the State’s evidence. WASH. CONST. art. I, § 22; U.S. CONST. amend. VI. Most evidence is presented through live testimony of witnesses sworn to tell the truth. As a general rule, witnesses may testify only about their own observations, not about what other people told them. This general rule is subject to a long-standing exception for “the fact of the complaint.” Under this current iteration of the fact of the complaint exception, the State may offer evidence that a victim of sexual violence told someone about it. In this case, four witnesses were allowed to testify that the victim told each of them she had been State v. Martinez, No. 97496-9 raped. The defendant argues this was error under our hearsay rules and asks this court to abandon the fact of the complaint doctrine. Declining to do so, we affirm. FACTS Simon Ortiz Martinez 1 sexually abused his daughter, Y.M., for nearly a decade. 1 Verbatim Report of Proceedings (VRP) (Oct. 24, 2017) at 34. Y.M. testified that the abuse began when she was five years old. Id. Martinez stopped Y.M. from playing Barbies with her brothers and told her to go to his room where he molested her. 3 VRP (Oct. 31, 2017) at 535, 538-40. The molestation continued regularly for several years. 1 VRP (Oct. 24, 2017) at 34; 3 VRP (Oct. 31, 2017) at 545, 574, 598-99. When Y.M. was nine years old, she was alone in the house with Martinez. Her youngest brother had been hospitalized, and their mother stayed at the hospital with him. 3 VRP (Oct. 31, 2017) at 548. Martinez raped Y.M. that night. Id. at 555-58. Three months later, Martinez raped her again. Id. at 560. Martinez continued to rape and sexually abuse Y.M. regularly until she moved out of the family home in 2014, when she was about 14. 1 VRP (Oct. 24, 2017) at 34, 36, 66-67; 3 VRP (Oct. 31, 2017) at 545, 574, 598-99. Around that time, she told several people about the sexual abuse. 4 VRP (Oct. 31, 2017) at 615, 617. A few 1 The briefs and trial record use several variations of the petitioner’s name. We use the name his own counsel uses. 2 State v. Martinez, No. 97496-9 months later, Y.M. reported it to authorities. 3 VRP (Oct. 30, 2017) at 488-89, 495; ...

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