EVIDENCE - EVIDENCE OF DECEASED'S CHARACTER
Evidence has been introduced for the purpose of showing the character of the deceased to be that of a quarrelsome, dangerous person. You may consider that fact in connection with the other evidence in ascertaining whether or not the deceased was the aggressor and brought on the difficulty, and if you believe that he/she had such a character and that his/her reputation in this regard was known to the defendant, you may consider that fact in connection with all the other evidence in the case in ascertaining whether or not the defendant reasonably and in good faith believed that he/she was in danger of losing his/her life or of receiving great bodily injury at the hands of the deceased.
Statutory Authority: 12 O.S. 1991, § 2404(A)(2).
Oklahoma authority prior to adoption of the Evidence Code permitted the defendant, in order to support a claim of self-defense in a homicide prosecution, to establish that the deceased was a person possessing violent tendencies. Harris v. State, 400 P.2d 64 (Okl. Cr. 1965); Thompson v. State, 365 P.2d 834 (Okl. Cr. 1961).
Section 2404(A)(2) allows the prosecutor to rebut evidence that the deceased perpetrated the initial aggressive act by offering proof of the victim's peaceful character. This statute works a change in the previous decisional law; cases prior to the enactment of the Code had held that, absent an attack by the defendant on the character of the deceased, evidence demonstrating the peaceful character traits of the victim was inadmissible. Henson v. State, 97 Okl. Cr. 240, 261 P.2d 916 (1953); Miller v. State, 63 Okl. Cr. 64, 72 P.2d 520 (1937).
As noted in the Committee Comments pertaining to proof of the character of the deceased, character evidence may be adduced under section 2405, 12 O.S. 1991, § 2405, either through use of reputation or opinion testimony. The character witness may be cross-examined by inquiry into that witness's knowledge of specific instances of conduct by the victim which, if true, would tend to undermine the witness's opinion or report of reputation.
Section 750 of Title 22, enacted in 1975, precludes the introduction of evidence, in any form, concerning prior sexual conduct of the prosecutrix in order to establish the defense of consent in a prosecution for rape or assault with intent to commit rape, unless the previous sexual conduct of the prosecutrix occurred with or in the presence of the defendant.