In what circumstances will the Court reverse the conviction of defendant in the second-degree murder trial of a man convicted of the crime of murder for making false statements about the crime scene?

California, United States of America

The following excerpt is from People v. Quartermain, 16 Cal.4th 600, 66 Cal.Rptr.2d 609, 941 P.2d 788 (Cal. 1997):

In extensively cross-examining defendant concerning the July 21, 1987, statement and in focusing in closing argument on the contradictions between defendant's statement and his trial testimony, the prosecution sought to paint defendant as a fabulist. In doing so, it struck at the heart of his defense. Under the circumstances, it is not possible to conclude that the guilt phase verdict "was surely unattributable to the error." (Sullivan v. Louisiana, supra, [16 Cal.4th 623] 508 U.S. at p. 279, 113 S.Ct. at p. 2081.) Accordingly, we reverse the entire judgment, including defendant's convictions for murder and conspiracy to murder, the findings on the special circumstance and personal-firearm-use allegations, and the sentence of death.

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