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People v. Battigalli-Ansell.

2021 COA 52. No. 18CA0899. Criminal Law—Internet Luring of a Child—Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child—Expert Testimony—Relevance—Due Process—Subpoena Duces Tecum—In Camera Review.

April 22, 2021

Omegle is a social media site that allows people to communicate anonymously with random strangers through videos and instant messages. Defendant was on the site when he sent sexually tinged messages and images to a user claiming to be 14-year-old girl (but who was actually law enforcement personnel). He was charged with internet luring of a child and internet sexual exploitation of a child. Defendant endorsed a therapist as an expert witness, but after several motions and hearings, the trial court issued an order significantly limiting the opinions that the expert could provide to the jury. The jury convicted defendant of internet sexual exploitation of a child.

On appeal, defendant argued that by limiting the expert witness’s testimony, the trial court violated his constitutional right to present a defense. Defendant waived his argument regarding certain opinions because defense counsel agreed at the final hearing to narrow the scope of the expert’s proposed testimony. While defendant preserved his arguments as to opinions B through F, opinions B, C, E, and F were irrelevant. Although opinion D was relevant to role play in chat rooms, the testimony would have improperly bolstered defendant’s argument that he believed he was communicating with an adult playing the role of a 14-year-old girl. Therefore, the court did not abuse its discretion by excluding opinions B through F.

Defendant also contended that the trial court violated his right to due process by quashing his subpoena duces tecum for and refusing to conduct an in camera review of the personnel file of the investigator who posed as the alleged victim. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by quashing the subpoena because defendant was using the subpoena to improperly conduct discovery. Further, defendant failed to make an initial showing that the subpoenaed materials were relevant. Accordingly, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by declining to conduct an in camera review before ruling on defendant’s right to see the materials.

The judgment of conviction was affirmed.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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