from the Superior Court in Coconino County The Honorable
Jacqueline Hatch, Judge No. CR2014-01006
of the Court of Appeals, Division One 240 Ariz. 269 (App.
2016) VACATED IN PART
Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General, Dominic E. Draye,
Solicitor General, Joseph T. Maziarz, Chief Counsel, Criminal
Appeals Section, Robert A. Walsh (argued), Assistant Attorney
General, Capital Litigation Section, Phoenix, Attorneys for
State of Arizona.
Coconino County Public Defender's Office, Brad Bransky
(argued), Deputy Public Defender, Flagstaff, Attorneys for
Mark Haskie, Jr.
J. Euchner (argued), Assistant Public Defender, Tucson,
Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Pima County Public Defender's
JUSTICE BRUTINEL authored the opinion of the Court, in which
CHIEF JUSTICE BALES, VICE CHIEF JUSTICE PELANDER, and
JUSTICES TIMMER, BOLICK, GOULD, and BERCH (retired)
During Mark Haskie, Jr.'s trial on felony charges arising
from an incident of domestic violence, Dr. Kathleen Ferraro,
testifying as an expert witness, described general behavioral
tendencies of adult victims of domestic abuse. Haskie argues
that Dr. Ferraro's testimony should have been excluded as
impermissible profile evidence. Because the testimony helped
the jury understand the victim's behavior and was more
probative than prejudicial, the trial court did not err in
Haskie assaulted his girlfriend, P.J., at a Flagstaff motel
after searching through messages on her phone and threatening
her, "I told you I would kill you if you cheated on
me." That same day, P.J. wrote a statement for the
police explaining that Haskie had beaten and strangled her.
Physical evidence from the motel corroborated her statement.
Haskie was arrested nearly a year later. Shortly after his
arrest, P.J. wrote two letters to the prosecutor recanting
her earlier statements to the police, claiming instead that
her injuries were from a bar fight she could not remember and
that Haskie was innocent.
Before trial, the State filed a motion in limine to admit
testimony by Dr. Ferraro as a "cold" expert on
domestic violence to help the jury understand why P.J. had
"continued her relationship with the defendant, "
"given conflicting statements while the case [was]
pending, " and why she was "reluctant to
testify." The State's motion was accompanied by a
list of questions the prosecutor intended to ask Dr. Ferraro.
Haskie objected to Dr. Ferraro's proposed testimony,
arguing it would not assist the jury and that it would
constitute improper profile evidence and vouching. Following
a hearing, the trial court limited Dr. Ferraro's
testimony to the list of questions.
At trial, the State presented recorded phone calls Haskie
made from jail, including several to P.J. before she
recanted. In these conversations, Haskie dictated to P.J. an
exculpatory story for her to tell police, apologized to her,
and promised to marry her when he was released. During one
call, P.J. responded, "[W]ell maybe you shouldn't
have tried to kill me. . . . You know exactly what you
did." At trial, however, P.J. testified that she did not
remember who had beaten her because she had been drinking,
and that although she initially blamed Haskie for her
injuries because she was jealous, she had in fact cheated on
At trial, Dr. Ferraro testified that she was a
"cold" or "blind" expert, meaning she had
not reviewed any case-specific evidence and was not going to
testify about any of the events in the case. The prosecutor
asked her a series of questions regarding characteristics of
domestic violence victims to help the jury understand
behaviors that might otherwise seem counterintuitive to
jurors unfamiliar with domestic violence. When asked,
"[I]s it unusual for someone who has been hurt by an
intimate partner to return to that relationship?" Dr.
Ferraro responded, "It's not unusual. It is very
common." She continued, "There are many reasons
[why, ] and they vary by the individual, of course, and the
type of relationship." Dr. Ferraro explained that some
victims of domestic violence return to their abusers out of
fear, retaliation, or threats, while others do not leave
their abusers because of pressure from extended family or the
victim's own shame. Dr. Ferraro further testified that
chemical dependency and alcohol abuse complicate the decision
to leave an abusive relationship.
The prosecutor then asked, "[D]o victims ever tend to
blame themselves for what happened?" ...