State v. Matteson

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State v. Matteson

Case Number
Call Date
September 26, 2022
Case Time
9:00 AM
Court Number
Case Location
Case Summary

S-21-0484 State of Nebraska (Appellee) v. Dale Matteson (Appellant)

Appeal from the District Court for Madison County, Judge Mark A. Johnson

Attorneys:  Michael J. Wilson (Berry Law Firm for Appellant) and Kimberly A. Klein (Assistant Attorney General for Appellee). 

Criminal:  Incest and Intentional Child Abuse Resulting in Death

Proceedings below:  Appellant pled guilty to one count of attempted incest and was also found guilty by a jury of Intentional Child Abuse Resulting in Death.  He was sentenced to two (2) to three (3) years in prison for the incest conviction and was sentenced to seventy-five (75) to eighty (80) years in prison for the Intentional Child Abuse Resulting in Death conviction.  Appellant filed a Petition to Bypass the Nebraska Court of Appeals, which was sustained, and the Nebraska Supreme Court transferred this case to its docket. 

Issues:  On appeal, Appellant makes the following assignments of error:  1) As applied in Matteson’s case, the vagueness of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-707(1)(a) and (8) violates due process because: (a) the law did not define the criminal offense with sufficient definiteness that Matteson, an ordinary person, could have understood that the child abuse would be a Class IB felony if Z.M. chose to commit suicide over 60 days following both the abuse and their final contact; and (b) the application of the law seen in Matteson’s case not only represents, but encourages, arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement; 2) Matteson’s conviction for intentional child abuse resulting in the death is not supported by the evidence because the State failed to introduce sufficient evidence that the July 17, 2019, child abuse caused Z.M.’s suicide over 60 days after their final contact; 3) The trial court committed reversible error when it refused to give a jury instruction, like Exhibit 46, that explained to the jury that an efficient intervening cause breaks the chain of causation between the conduct and the alleged result; 4) The trial court erred in admitting the testimony of Britny M. under Rule 404(2) because it amounted to irrelevant, inadmissible propensity evidence that suggested conviction of Matteson on an improper basis, thereby violating Rules 401, 403, and 404(2); 5) The trial court’s failure to give a limiting instruction following Britny M.’s testimony constituted plain error; 6) The trial court committed reversible error when it admitted the hearsay testimony of Rae I. recounting Britny M.’s out-of-court statements; 7) The trial court abused its discretion in admitting Exhibit 25, a video of a 2015 forensic interview of Z.M. regarding prior claims of sexual abuse by Matteson, because it violated Rule 403 where (a) Matteson’s confession to the intentional child rendered Exhibit 25 much less probative than prejudicial, and (b) Exhibit 25 contained claims by Z.M. that Matteson sexually assaulted Jessica M., exacerbating its unfairly prejudicial effect; and 8) The trial court erred in excluding Exhibit 30, Z.M.’s handwritten journal entries dated August 8, 2019 to September 4, 2019, because the State made Z.M.’s reasons for committing suicide a material fact in the case, there was no evidence suggesting that the journal was untrustworthy, and the journal was probative as to causation.

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