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State v. Eidson

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department B

August 27, 2013


Not for Publication – Rule 111, Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County Cause No. CR2010-144129-001 The Honorable Susanna C. Pineda, Judge

Thomas C. Horne, Attorney General Phoenix By Joseph T. Maziarz, Section Chief Counsel Criminal Appeals Section And Linley Wilson, Assistant Attorney General Attorneys for Appellee

James J. Haas, Maricopa County Public Defender Phoenix By Christopher V. Johns, Deputy Public Defender Attorneys for Appellant


DONN KESSLER, Presiding Judge

¶1 David Roy Eidson ("Eidson") appeals from his convictions of second degree murder, under Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") section 13-1104 (2010), [1] and concealment of a dead body, under A.R.S. § 13-2926 (2010), and resulting sentences, arguing that the superior court erred by allowing an odorous handcart into evidence. For reasons set forth below, we affirm.


¶2 Eidson met the victim ("D.W.") in 2007. The two became romantically involved and moved in together. Their relationship was not smooth; Eidson testified at trial that D.W. physically attacked and threatened to kill him on four separate occasions. D.W. finally decided to end the relationship. A mutual acquaintance testified that Eidson was "very upset" about losing D.W. In the end, both men were evicted from the shared residence, and they began moving out at the same time to separate locations.

¶3 Eidson testified that during the move he did as little lifting as possible because of back issues from past spinal surgeries. When asked how much weight Eidson could lift, however, one witness testified that it depended on the day; some days "[Eidson] had to pull himself up with boxes" and others "he was out there helping [others] be able to move furniture."

¶4 On the morning of D.W.'s death, Eidson and D.W. argued over a piece of property. Eidson testified that D.W. threw him against the wall and threatened him with a knife. The two wrestled with the knife, and the trial evidence showed Eidson ultimately stabbed D.W. nine times, killing D.W.

¶5 Eidson then wrapped D.W.'s body in a shower curtain, sheet, and comforter, and tied the whole bundle onto a handcart. Eidson is 6'4" and 210 pounds, and D.W. was 5'8" and 190 pounds. When asked how Eidson, with a bad back, rolled all "190 pounds" of D.W.'s body onto the handcart, Eidson commented that it was "very easy" and that he moves such weight "all the time." Eidson then rolled the handcart into a storage trailer.

¶6 Ten days later, Eidson began driving the trailer to a storage lot. A couple driving behind Eidson's trailer noticed an odor like "something that was dead" emanating from the trailer. Suspicious, the couple dialed 9-1-1 to report the smell and the license plate number of Eidson's trailer. Police stopped Eidson's vehicle, opened the trailer, and found D.W.'s bundled, decomposing body on the handcart. Eidson's DNA was found on the handcart.

¶7 At trial, Eidson admitted to killing D.W. but claimed self-defense as a justification.[3] Without objection, a photograph of the handcart was admitted into evidence. The State offered the handcart into evidence, arguing that it was "the best evidence to show . . . how large it is, " and thus constituted the best rebuttal to Eidson's self-defense claim. The handcart's size was particularly relevant because of the various testimonies about Eidson avoiding lifting because of his bad back. In response to the court's query why photographs could not suffice to show dimensions, the State responded: "[t]he photos do not do it justice in regard to what it took for the defendant to place [D.W.] on that handcart."

¶8 In response to the superior court's question, the State admitted that the handcart had "an odor to it, " adding that the handcart was "completely wrapped" in a biohazard bag. Eidson objected, arguing that admission of the handcart would be "highly inappropriate" because the odor would "perhaps inflame the jury" and "create some unfair prejudice." The superior court overruled the objection, reasoning that "anything that had some bodily fluid of one nature or another, which has been testified to, would possibly have some form of odor . . . . I can't do anything about that. That's the nature of the exhibit." In doing so, however, the superior court allowed Eidson to make a record as to what odor (if any) was present when the handcart was admitted, that the handcart would not be removed from its plastic wrapping ...

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