De Soto Loses Appeal; Murder Conviction Stands

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De Soto first argued the convictions should be reversed because the trial court committed plain error in failing to adequately instruct the jury on the doctrine of “diminished capacity.” 

Guam – Today the Supreme Court of Guam affirmed the murder conviction against Chad Ryan De Soto.

 

 De Soto filed an appeal of his murder conviction for his attack against pedestrians in Tumon. De Soto first argued the convictions should be reversed because the trial court committed plain error in failing to adequately instruct the jury on the doctrine of “diminished capacity.” Ultimately the Guam Supreme Court found that errors committed by the trial court did not cumulatively impact De Soto’s right to a fair trial. The Guam Supreme Court upheld his conviction.

 

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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 11, 2016 – Today, the Supreme Court of Guam issued an opinion in the case People v. De Soto, 2016 Guam 12. Defendant-Appellant Chad Ryan De Soto appealed from a final judgment convicting him of three counts of Aggravated Murder and eleven counts of Attempted Aggravated Murder following his attack against pedestrians in Tumon. De Soto first argued the convictions should be reversed because the trial court committed plain error in failing to adequately instruct the jury on the doctrine of “diminished capacity.” Second, De Soto contended the trial court committed numerous evidentiary errors, namely: (1) permitting long-term impact testimony by victim and non-victim witnesses, (2) allowing impeachment evidence rebutting a defense witness’s testimony about her conversations with De Soto, (3) permitting testimony of De Soto’s psychotherapist despite the psychotherapist-patient privilege, and (4) allowing the prosecutor to make improper statements that commented on the credibility of defense witnesses and implied De Soto would be released if found not guilty by reason of insanity. De Soto believed his trial counsel’s failure to object to the psychotherapist’s testimony resulted in ineffective assistance of counsel, and that these errors cumulatively denied him a fair trial.

The Supreme Court of Guam held that the trial court’s diminished capacity instruction was not erroneous. Next, the court held that it was harmless error to admit the long-term impact testimony of two witnesses over De Soto’s unfair prejudice objection. De Soto likewise failed to establish that the challenged long-term impact testimony of the other witnesses affected his substantial rights under a plain error analysis. The trial court also appropriately allowed evidence impeaching a defense witness as she may have been falsifying her loss of memory and this evidence allowed the People to attack her credibility. Moreover, the trial court properly admitted De Soto’s psychotherapist’s testimony because De Soto waived any objection by disclosing those medical records to his experts. As there was no error in admitting this testimony, and De Soto failed to present a Strickland analysis, there was no ineffective assistance of counsel with respect to that issue. Furthermore, the prosecutor’s improper statements did not affect De Soto’s substantial rights under a plain error review. Finally, errors committed by the trial court did not cumulatively impact De Soto’s right to a fair trial. Accordingly, the trial court’s judgment was affirmed.

For more information, contact Dana Gutierrez at 300-9282.