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TENNESSEE v. STREET

decided: May 13, 1985.

TENNESSEE
v.
STREET



CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS OF TENNESSEE, EASTERN DISTRICT.

Burger, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which all other Members joined, except Powell, J., who took no part in the consideration or decision of the case. Brennan, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Marshall, J., joined, post, p. 417.

Author: Burger

[ 471 U.S. Page 410]

 CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.

We granted certiorari to decide whether respondent's rights under the Confrontation Clause were violated by the introduction of the confession of an accomplice for the non-hearsay purpose of rebutting respondent's testimony that his own confession was coercively derived from the accomplice's statement.

I

Ben Tester was last seen alive on August 26, 1981, as he walked toward his home in Hampton, Tennessee. The next day Tester's body was found hanging by a nylon rope from an

[ 471 U.S. Page 411]

     apple tree in his yard. Tester's house had been ransacked, and it appeared that Tester had struggled with his assailants.

Respondent, a neighbor of Tester, was arrested and charged with the murder. At respondent's trial, which was severed from the trials of others charged with the crime, the State relied on a detailed confession that respondent made during an interview with Sheriff Papantoniou and agents of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on September 17, 1981. According to respondent's confession, he and Clifford Peele decided to burglarize Ben Tester's house when Tester was away at church. While respondent, Peele and two others were in the house, however, Tester returned home and surprised the intruders. Peele threw Tester to the floor and declared that they were going to "string him up." Working toward that end, respondent tore a sheet to make a gag for Tester's mouth. Respondent then watched as the others carried Tester out of the house, placed him in the back of a pickup truck, put a rope around his neck, tied the rope to a tree, and pushed him off the tailgate.*fn1

Respondent testified at trial that he did not burglarize Tester's house, nor participate in the murder. He also maintained that his September 17 confession was coerced. The confession, respondent testified, was derived from a written statement that Peele had previously given the Sheriff. Respondent claimed that Sheriff Papantoniou read from Peele's statement and directed him to say the same thing.

In rebuttal, the State called Sheriff Papantoniou to testify about the September 17 interview. The Sheriff denied that respondent was read Peele's statement or pressured to repeat the terms of Peele's confession. To corroborate this testimony, and to rebut respondent's claim that his own confession

[ 471 U.S. Page 412]

     was a coerced imitation, the Sheriff read Peele's confession to the jury.*fn2 Before Peele's statement was received, however, the trial judge twice informed the jury that it was admitted "not for the purpose of proving the truthfulness of ...


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