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Anderson v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Virginia

November 6, 2018

DANIEL GORDON ANDERSON
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

          FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF VIRGINIA BEACH Leslie L. Lilley, Judge

          Afshin Farashahi (Afshin Farashahi, P.C., on brief), for appellant.

          Rachel L. Yates, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

          Present: Judges Petty, Chafin and Senior Judge Frank Argued at Norfolk, Virginia

          OPINION

          TERESA M. CHAFIN JUDGE

         Daniel Gordon Anderson was convicted of voluntary manslaughter at the conclusion of a jury trial held in the Circuit Court of the City of Virginia Beach. On appeal, Anderson contends that the circuit court erred by refusing to admit part of the victim's prior criminal record into evidence. Anderson maintains that the excluded portion of the victim's criminal record was admissible to support his claim of self-defense. For the following reasons, we affirm Anderson's conviction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         "In accordance with established principles of appellate review, we state the facts in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the prevailing party in the trial court[, and] accord the Commonwealth the benefit of all inferences fairly deducible from the evidence." Riner v. Commonwealth, 268 Va. 296, 303, 601 S.E.2d 555, 558 (2004). So viewed, the pertinent evidence is as follows.

         Anderson and the victim were next-door neighbors. Shortly after Anderson moved to the neighborhood, he began having an affair with the victim's wife. On the evening of September 3, 2016, Anderson and the victim got into a fight outside of their homes. Anderson stabbed the victim three times during the altercation, inflicting a fatal wound to the victim's chest and lung.

         Anderson was charged with second-degree murder of the victim. Anderson maintained that he stabbed the victim in self-defense after the victim attacked him, grabbed his throat, and began choking him. Before his trial, Anderson requested the circuit court to permit the introduction of ten of the victim's prior criminal charges and convictions into evidence. These charges and convictions included:

(1) a 1996 dismissed charge of "Assault Against Family/Household Member;"
(2) a 1996 conviction of "Brandishing a Firearm;"
(3) a 1997 dismissed charge of "Assault;"
(4) a 1998 conviction of "Carrying Concealed ...

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