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State v. Quinn

April 7, 1997


Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 94-1-08389-5. Date filed: 10/02/95. Judge signing: Hon. Richard A. Jones.

Petition for Review Denied September 3, 1997,

Authored by Walter E. Webster. Concurring: Susan R. Agid, William W. Baker.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Webster

WEBSTER, J. -- This murder case, in which the defense focused on self- defense, raises fact specific evidentiary and trial errors. Andrew Quinn first alleges that the trial court erred by excluding testimony that the victim's friend had threatened him for an alleged slur against the victim's gang. But the record does not establish that Quinn knew of the threat. As a result, the trial court properly excluded the testimony. Other errors raised are unreviewable because the record does not establish the substance or admissibility of excluded evidence. Quinn also raises ineffective assistance of counsel, but lacks an adequate record to establish prejudice. Consequently, we affirm his conviction.


Late at night in early December 1994, Andrew Quinn and Julia Watson rode on a METRO bus to downtown Seattle from Mercer Island. They got off the bus and started walking to meet two friends, Troy Walton and Sabrina Word. Quinn and Watson bumped into Anthony Allen. Quinn and Allen exchanged hostile words. Then Walton and Word arrived, and after some conversation, Walton and Word went into a store, while Quinn and Watson went ahead to a bus stop. Then, five to seven people, including Allen and Jason Jack, surrounded Quinn and Watson. They threatened the pair. They beat Quinn with their fists, and rammed his head into a metal pole. Allen hit him several times in the face with a gun. Walton and Word emerged from the store, and saw Quinn, bloodied and bruised, running away from three attackers. Word called 911, but abandoned the effort as one of the perpetrators started towards her. Watson escaped separately.

An incident that occurred the next day is the subject of assigned error, because the trial court excluded testimony relating to it. Allen saw Walton and confronted him about a slur allegedly made by either Walton or Quinn against Jack and Allen's gang. When Walton denied making the slur, Allen told him that Quinn was "dead."

Soon thereafter, Quinn and Walton went together to purchase a gun. Quinn purchased a .44 caliber, after firing it to make sure that it worked. A few days later, Quinn, carrying that gun, caught a bus downtown with Walton. Cherisse Brunson, who is Jack's cousin, was on the same bus. She overhead a conversation between Quinn and another man; the man asked to buy a gun from Quinn. Quinn declined to sell, saying he intended to commit a crime. Quinn was also rapping to himself, using words equivalent to "killing a motherfucker." Jack and Allen were at a bus stop near the King County Courthouse. Quinn, Walton, Jack, and Allen yelled and gestured at each other. Yet Quinn and Walton rode to the next stop. Sometime after getting off of the bus, Quinn fired his weapon towards Jack and Allen.

Witnesses differed when asked how many shots were fired. They did not agree whether the shots came from pistols with different calibers. Allen also had a gun. But the defense did not dispute that Quinn killed Jack. Instead, it focused on self-defense. The state charged Quinn with murder in the first degree (with a deadly weapon allegation), and murder in the second degree (causing Jack's death while committing second degree assault). The jury convicted on both counts.


Exclusion Of Threat Against Quinn

Quinn contends that the trial court erred in excluding testimony that Allen, who was with Jack at the time of the murder, threatened Quinn. He argues that the evidence was admissible to establish his state of mind vis- -vis self-defense.

Hearsay is generally inadmissible. *fn1 But an out-of-court statement used to prove the mental state of the person who heard it is not hearsay. *fn2 Quinn correctly argues that the threat would be relevant to show his fear of Allen and Jack. But the threat was made to Troy Walton, not to Quinn. And the record does not show that he knew of the threat. Still, Quinn argues that because the threat was made to his roommate, the court could infer that he knew of the threat. This is not, however, the only reasonable inference that could be drawn from these ...

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