Tue. May 21st, 2024

NEW MEXICO RULING ABOLISHES LEGAL PRIVILEGE ON SPOUSAL TESTIMONY

SANTA FE (KSMX)- New Mexico’s highest court has lifted a ban on testimony that stems from private conversations between spouses.

The state Supreme Court’s ruling came in its decision to uphold the first-degree murder conviction of David Gutierrez, of Clovis. He is accused of killing a man in 2002.

Gutierrez, whose defense objected to the women’s testimony, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

The ruling said use of the spousal communication privilege during his 2017 trial prompted the court to “question its continued viability in New Mexico.”

Both women testified during David Gutierrez’s 2017 trial in the killing of Jose Valverde, who was found dead in a boxcar he used as his home.

Gutierrez, whose defense objected to the women’s testimony, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

The ruling said use of the spousal communication privilege during his 2017 trial prompted the court to “question its continued viability in New Mexico.”

A courts spokesman said in a statement Monday that Gutierrez had sought to block testimony from his ex-wife and second wife during his trial. While the court upheld his conviction, the “spousal communication privilege” remained in effect for his case.

The justices’ decision Friday on spousal testimony applies to all criminal and civil cases moving forward.

Chief Justice Judith Nakamura said in a statement that “the privilege is a vestige of a vastly different society than the one we live in today.”

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