The rule against hearsay essentially bans a person from testifying in court about what another person said outside of court if the testimony is meant to prove that the out-of-court statement is true. As Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal recently pointed out in a murder case, however, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. That includes certain statements made by a person shortly before he or she dies.
Defendant was charged with first degree murder and an assortment of related criminal offenses, stemming from the killing of a Florida man during what prosecutors described as a drug deal gone wrong. Defendant was visiting Miami from New York when he and a friend bought $5 worth of marijuana from M., according to the court. M. then arranged for Defendant to buy $1,500 in cocaine and marijuana from V., the court said. Defendant allegedly coaxed M. to his hotel room, where he and his associate claimed to be police officers, threatened M. with a gun, beat him, and forced M. to set up a meeting with V..
V. eventually met with Defendant and got in the back of his car. Defendant’s associate showed V. a police ID card. V. tried to get out of the car when he realized Defendant didn’t have money for the drugs he said he wanted to buy. A struggle ensued, during which Defendant allegedly shot V. three times as V. was getting out of the car. Defendant and his associate drove off with M. still in the back of the car. A police officer who arrived on the scene asked V. who shot him. V. told the officer that it was “a black man with dreads.” He died shortly after making the statement.