Court affirms Vance conviction in Anne Pressly slaying | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Court affirms Vance conviction in Anne Pressly slaying

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 9:21 AM

ANNE PRESSLY: Killers conviction affirmed.
  • ANNE PRESSLY: Killer's conviction affirmed.
The Arkansas Supreme Court today affirmed the conviction of Curtis Lavell Vance in the Oct. 20, 2008 slaying of KATV anchor Anne Pressly. Jury found him guilty of burglary, theft, rape and murder in the beating death of Pressly in her Heights home.

Among other points, the court said it found no error in Vance's claim that DNA evidence and a statement he gave police should have been suppressed at the trial. The court said Vance had freely given a saliva sample during a time when he was not under arrest and thus couldn't mount a constitutional challenge to use of that evidence. It also said he had waived Miranda rights in questioning by Little Rock police detectives in which he made incriminating statements about being in Pressly's house. The court also denied Vance's appeal that his case was prejudiced by introduction of testimony linking him to a rape of a Marianna school teacher (a charge that eventually ended in a hung jury and mistrial). The court said the crimes were sufficiently similar for the earlier assault to be discussed.

Here's the opinion.

UPDATE: In concurring with the decision, Justice Jim Hannah wrote a short separate opinion on a point that might have significance in the future on use of evidence of an unrelated crime:


The State introduced the evidence of the unrelated crimes in Marianna at its own peril. Substantial evidence of the charged crimes was introduced at trial and would support the jury’s verdict of guilty of the crimes charged in the present case. The course taken by the State in this case would have precluded a harmless-error analysis had Vance succeeded in his arguments that Arkansas Rule of Evidence 404(b) excluded the evidence. Because the State introduced the evidence of unrelated crimes in Marianna, this court could not have found that the guilty verdict
rendered “was surely unattributable to the error.” See Sullivan v. Louisiana, 508 U.S. 275, 279
(1993).

Because the majority continues to hold contrary to my view on the admissibility of evidence of similar crimes, wrongs, or acts, I concur with the outcome of this case under the principle of stare decisis. However, I state my willingness to revisit this issue in the future.

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