Rules of Evidence: Appeal and Error. An appellate court
reviews for abuse of discretion a trial court's
evidentiary rulings on relevance, whether the probative value
of evidence is substantially outweighed by the danger of
unfair prejudice, and the sufficiency of a party's
foundation for admitting evidence.
Constitutional Law: Sentences. Whether a sentence constitutes
cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth
Amendment presents a question of law.
Judgments: Appeal and Error. When reviewing a question of
law, an appellate court reaches a conclusion independent of
the lower court's ruling.
from the District Court for Douglas County: Leigh Ann
Retelsdorf, Judge. Affirmed.
Martin Davis, of Davis Law Office, for appellant.
Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, and Melissa R. Vincent
Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, and Funke, JJ.,
and Riedmann and Arterburn, Judges.
S. Trotter was convicted of two counts of first degree murder
and two counts of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony.
He was sentenced to a term of 40 to 60 [299 Neb. 393]
years' imprisonment for each murder conviction and 5 to
10 years' imprisonment for each use conviction, to be
direct appeal, Trotter, who was 16 years of age at the time
of the events for which he was convicted, alleges that the
district court erred in not admitting photographs he claims
support his defense that another individual committed the
murders and that his collective sentence of 90 to 140
years' imprisonment was the functional equivalent of a
sentence of life imprisonment. We affirm.
was charged in the January 3, 2015, shooting deaths of Marcel
Lovejoy and Dexter Joseph. Lovejoy and Joseph were shot while
attending a party at an apartment complex in Omaha, Nebraska.
At trial, three eyewitnesses testified that Trotter was the
defense was mistaken identity: He claimed that the witnesses
who identified him mistook him for DeAndre Hines. He
attempted to introduce into evidence photographs of Hines,
which were found on Hines' cell phone during a consensual
search of that phone by law enforcement. The photographs were
taken on two different days toward the end of December 2014
and depicted Hines holding a silver and black handgun.
an objection to these photographs, Trotter's counsel
sought a sidebar prior to the offering of the photographs:
[Counsel for Trotter]: Okay. Here is the screenshot. It's
dated December 29th of 2014, which is a couple of days
beforehand, and that's - although you may not be able to
tell, that clearly is . . . Hines with a gun that is similar
to the one described by the witnesses as silver and black.
Show them the next picture. For your information, the next
one is taken on - okay. There it is. Similar gun, . . . [299
Neb. 394] Hines on New Year's Eve. He doesn't have -
doesn't have the time on there. It's 7:56 p.m., it
looks like, and once again, I believe that he's in
possession of a gun that is similar to the one described by
the witness, silver and black.
And so I would - my intention would be to ask him if he got
them from - captured them from the phone, and put them into
evidence, and I want to do this beforehand, so it's not -
THE COURT: I appreciate that you are playing fair.
[The State]: The State would object, first off, on relevance.
I don't know if that is, in fact, a gun or a BB gun. It
looks like a real gun. I can't tell from looking at the
photo what caliber of weapon it is. I can't tell if
it's a 9 millimeter or a .40 ...