Admission of Gruesome Photographs in Homicide Prosecutions
Schild, Christine Meyer
INTRODUCTION|Demonstrative evidence, such as photographs, may be used if it is relevant and its probative value outweighs any unfair prejudicial effect. Photographs are generally used to illustrate a witness' testimony. They may be used in some cases, however, as substantive evidence of a fact in issue. Photographs are used in homicide cases to show, among other things, the condition of the victim's body. Merely because these photographs are gruesome does not render them inadmissible, unless their probative value is also outweighed by their possible prejudicial effect. The Nebraska Supreme Court considered the admissibility of gruesome photographs in State v. Rowe.' The court found that, if the photographs are relevant to an issue in the case, they are admissible even though they portray a gruesome spectacle. Furthermore, the fact that a defendant stipulates to the truth of the subject portrayed in the photograph does not automatically render it inadmissible. If there is some issue to which the photographs are marginally relevant, the photographs will be admitted in evidence. Finally, in spite of strong language in past Nebraska cases, it appears that the court will uphold the admission of photographs which have only "borderline" relevance....
16 Creighton L. Rev. 73 (1982-1983)
Creighton University School of Law