Under ER 404(b), evidence of prior bad acts is not admissible to show conformity with those acts. In 2008, the Legislature carved out an exception to ER 404(b) by passing a bill that allowed evidence of prior sex crimes to be admitted in criminal sex cases. But in 2012, the Washington Supreme Court held that this statute was unconstitutional.
Gower involves a bench trial that took place in 2009, after the Legislature’s ER 404(b) exception was in effect, but before it was held unconstitutional. The State had charged Gower with a series of sex crimes relating to sexual contact with his minor step-daughter, SEH. At trial, the State sought to admit the testimony of one of Gower’s other minor children, CM, and the trial court admitted CM’s testimony, stating that the evidence would have been inadmissible under ER 404(b), but was admissible under the statutory exception. SEH also testified to her own experience at the hands of Gower.
Continue Reading State v. Gower: Anything is Reasonably Probable