A prior consistent statement of a witness may be admitted when the witness has been broadly impeached by prior inconsistent statements, without regard for when any motive to fabricate arose, said the California Supreme Court in People v. Brents (Feb. 2, 2012, S093754), __ Cal.4th __, 2012 DJDAR __ [2012 DJDAR 1355].
Defendant was charged with the murder of Kelly Gordon, with whom he argued about $100 in proceeds from the sale of methamphetamine. During the confrontation, several women physically assaulted Gordon. One of the assailants, Uele, testified that after the beating she opened the trunk of the car, defendant put the victim in the trunk, and she gave defendant the keys. She admitted her participation in the beating, but denied being an accomplice to the murder.
On cross-examination Uele was asked about inconsistencies between her trial testimony and her testimony at the preliminary hearing, and between her testimony and that of other witnesses. The prosecution called a witness to testify to a conversation with Uele on the night of the murder, in which Uele said she and others "had beat up a girl" and defendant had put her in the trunk. The trial court allowed the testimony as a prior consistent statement.
On appeal, defendant argued that the statement was inadmissible because the motive to fabricate arose at the time of Gordon's assault or shortly thereafter, and, therefore, the statement was not made before the motive to fabricate arose. But, said the court, the implication of the cross-examination was that Uele's entire testimony was unreliable, not just that she had fabricated some specific point. Such a broad charge of fabrication warrants admission of a prior consistent statement to rehabilitate the witness.
In any event, the implied charge of fabrication was largely based on inconsistencies between the trial testimony and testimony at the preliminary hearing, and the admitted statements were made before the preliminary hearing, thus satisfying the temporal requirement of Evidence Code §791, subd. (b).