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Use of Irrelevant Evidence of ‘Goth’ Lifestyle Leads to Reversal of Murder Conviction

Atlanta Lawyer > Atlanta News  > Use of Irrelevant Evidence of ‘Goth’ Lifestyle Leads to Reversal of Murder Conviction

Use of Irrelevant Evidence of ‘Goth’ Lifestyle Leads to Reversal of Murder Conviction

Via Siouxsie Law I came across an interesting recent opinion of the Supreme Court of Georgia that reversed a murder conviction because the trial court allowed the prosecution to introduce “irrelevant and highly prejudicial character evidence” about a teenage defendant’s “goth” lifestyle. The court stated that during the trial of Courtney Boring, a teenage girl who was convicted of murdering her mother, the state introduced evidence seized from the girl’s bedroom, including: photographs of appellant with dyed black hair and dark make-up; a document bearing the words of a “curse” to be recited “while burning the letter over a black candle”; and seven different inscriptions, one typewritten and the rest handwritten on the bedroom walls, of song lyrics and quotations attributed to various singers and other artists, bearing themes of anguish, enslavement, atheism, and violence. The court observed that although prosecutors did not produce additional evidence or testimony regarding the “import of these items, the State explicitly sought in both opening and closing to link these items with the so-called ‘gothic lifestyle’ and to characterize them as evidence of ‘satanic influences.'” The prosecutor stated in closing argument that while the various goth items did not “prove” that the girl killed…

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