In the supreme court of california

D. Admitting Crime Scene Photographs and Evidence of Child Pornography

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D. Admitting Crime Scene Photographs and Evidence of Child Pornography

Defendant contends the court erred in admitting, over objection, photographs of the crime scene and the evidence regarding the child pornography found on the computer to which he had access.

1. Crime Scene Photographs

At a hearing held before the evidentiary portion of trial, the prosecutor stated he did not seek to introduce any autopsy photographs, but he sought to introduce six photographs of the crime scene that depict the condition of the body when it was found. The court excluded two of the proffered photographs but ruled the prosecutor could admit the other four. Those four photographs were introduced at trial.

“The admission into evidence of photographs lies within the trial court’s discretion and will not be disturbed absent an abuse of that discretion.” (People v. Rountree, supra, 56 Cal.4th at p. 852.) In this case, the court did not abuse its discretion but carefully exercised it. The prosecution offered no autopsy photographs and only six crime scene photographs. In the exercise of its discretion, the trial court excluded two of those photographs. We have viewed the photographs the court admitted. They are disturbing, as photographs of murder victims usually are. They show, for example, the injuries the victim suffered to her vagina and anus. But, as we have noted many times, “murder is rarely pretty” and “photographs in a murder case are generally unpleasant.” (Ibid.) The photographs were highly relevant to the cause of death and, especially, to whether defendant committed lewd and lascivious acts on the child and murdered her in the course of doing so. The trial acted within its discretion in excluding some photographs and admitting others.

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