The appeal process for 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days star Geoffrey Paschel is nearing a conclusion. While Geoffrey continues to serve his 18-year prison sentence for aggravated kidnapping, domestic assault and interference with an emergency call, his new attorney was in appellate court earlier today for oral arguments.
Oral arguments are the last step before the Tennessee Court of Appeals issues a decision on whether or not to grant Geoffrey a new trial. The defense and prosecution are given a limited amount of time to present their cases and answer questions before the three-judge panel presiding over the appeal. Geoffrey was not present in the court room or via video.
We previously shared a thorough summary of the six arguments presented by Geoffrey’s defense team in support of a new trial. We stated in that summary that there were two arguments that seemed the strongest, and it was those two arguments that criminal defense attorney M. Jeffery Whitt focussed on during oral arguments today.
Both arguments are based on testimony given by witnesses for the prosecution that the judge instructed the jury to disregard. An officer who was on the scene testified that Geoffrey had scratch marks on his chest and he stated “they looked self-inflicted.”
The defense claims that the officer was not an expert and not qualified to offer up his opinion as to what may have caused the scratch marks. During oral arguments, one of the judges argued that the officer’s testimony might have been OK under the statute of lay opinion testimony anyway, even if the jury hadn’t been instructed to ignore it — which they were.
The appellate judges seemed more persuaded by the second instance of stricken witness testimony.
Geoffrey Paschel’s victim, Kristen Wilson (Chapman), was testifying in regards to Geoffrey allegedly deleting items from her phone. During her testimony, Kristen alluded to previous instances of abuse at the hands of Geoffrey.
PROSECUTOR: And when, when you testified previously you stated that he had deleted some things on your phone. Can you tell us exactly what was deleted?
KRISTEN: Text messages between us. Every text that we had sent for our relationship, I had — I didn’t delete them and the whole text thread was gone when I got my phone back. Voicemails that he had left me were deleted; pictures, some pictures, not all pictures, but some pictures were deleted off my phone. I had some — I don’t know if I can say this. I had pictures of marks that he had left on me previously, from previous –
The defense argues that the mention of previous instances of abuse was not allowed, and was something that they could not recover from in a trial that was essentially a he said/she said issue. Mr. Whitt says the statement was “a bell that could not be unrung” by simply advising the jury to pretend they never heard it.
Judge Witt (different from defense attorney Whitt) brings up a point made by the trial court judge, which is that the jury was going to either believe Kristen Chapman’s account of what happened on the night of the incident with Geoffrey, or they weren’t. The brief mention of alleged prior instances of abuse wouldn’t likely change whether or not the jury believed her.
Defense attorney Whitt made this argument:
One of the problems in the State’s proof is that [Kristen’s] version of the events was: She comes home, they’ve had a great evening, everything was fine, she’s walking her dog, and she walks back in before they are going to go meet a friend, and she just gets attacked by him. With no motive. With no reason. With no rationale. With no anything.
So, a juror has to have that, that question of whether or not, you know, “Well, what happened there? That doesn’t make any sense.”
When you get to put in the fact that, “well, he’s done it before,” you kind of get to fill in some of the gaps if you’re a juror and you’re trying to look at what happened, and you get this, “Well, here’s a conformity. This is what this person does. This is who this person is.”
#BeforeThe90Days Geoffrey Paschel's ex-wife Allison testified during his sentencing today, accusing him of multiple assaults. Here's our article with more of her allegations: https://t.co/83euFp4o8b
And allegations of rape from Geoffrey's 1st wife: https://t.co/fKfQufGL7h
— Starcasm (@starcasm) February 4, 2022
Early on during the oral arguments hearing, everyone seems to agree that the testimony in question from Kristen Chapman (Wilson) was not elicited by prosecutors, which would be a much more clear reason for a mistrial. However, the defense attorney flatly states towards the end of the oral arguments that he did believe the testimony was elicited.
“Did the State kind of elicit that testimony?” Mr. Whitt asks. “Yeah, I believe they did.”
The appellate court is likely to take at least a few weeks before issuing a ruling. If the appeal is denied, Geoffrey will still be able to appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court. However, state supreme courts are much more selective about which cases they hear.
Here’s the full video from the oral arguments, which is less than 40 minutes total:
Asa Hawks is a writer and editor for Starcasm. You can contact Asa via Twitter, Facebook, or email at starcasmtips(at)yahoo.com