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How Text Messages Convicted a Murderer

Author: Portner & Shure

Have you ever wondered if your text messages could be used against you? In a recent case, Chewning, v. Commonwealth, the defendant was charged with being an accessory before the fact of first-degree murder and the use of a firearm. 90 pages worth of text messages that were sent between the defendant and his girlfriend with regard to her plans to murder her mother were found to be admissible at the defendant's trial.

Defendant and his girlfriend, Ashleigh Dye, discussed Dye's desire to kill her mother. When Dye's mother discovered that she was pregnant with Chewing's child, her mother punched her in the stomach, causing her to miscarry. The couple plotted their revenge. On the day of the murder, Chewning encouraged Dye to commit to her plans, texting, "Don't freak or freeze." "Do it." Dye pleaded guilty at her own trial and testified at Chewning's trial.

The records were admitted into Chewning's trial without hearsay analysis because the records were computer-generated by Verizon Wireless. In the alternative, the records were admissible under the hearsay exception of a business record.

When confronted about the text messages at the police station, the defendant stated that they were "all true."

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