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People v. O’Neal, 254 N.E.2d 559 (App. Ct. Ill. 1969)

Case (cite)
People v. O'Neal, 254 N.E.2d 559 (App. Ct. Ill. 1969)
Type of proceeding
Type of claim
Type of claim (second claim)
Expert evidence ruling reversing or affirming on appeal:
What was the ruling?
Correct to Admit
Type of evidence at issue:
Firearms identification
Defense or Prosecution Expert
Name of expert(s) who were the subject of the ruling
Burt Nielsen
Summary of reasons for ruling
Defendant argues that there was no factual basis in evidence to support the expert's conclusions because neither the test buller nor pictographs were entered into evidence which improperly restricted his right to cross. The court holds that the testimony was properly admitted and that the expert's testimony as to his procedure in comparing the bullets was sufficient. It was up to the jury to decide how much weight to give the testimony. The court cites to other jurisdictions that have upheld the admission of expert testimony without demonstrative evidence. The court further notes that the bullet and gun had been entered into evidence, allowing the defendant to perform his own tests.
The jurisdiction’s standard for expert admissibility at the time – list all that apply: (Frye), (Daubert), (Post-2000 Rule 702), (Other)
Second standard
Did lower court hold a hearing
Names of prosecution expert(s) two testified at hearing
Names of defense expert(s) who testified at hearing (or None).
Discussion of 2009 NAS Report (NAS2009)
Discussion of 2016 PCAST report (PCAST)
Discussion of error rates / reliability
Frye Ruling
Limiting testimony ruling
Language imposed by court to limit testimony
Ruling based in prior precedent / judicial notice
Daubert ruling emphasizing – which factors – (list 1-5)
Ruling on qualifications of expert
Ruling on 702(a) – the expert will help / assist the jury
Ruling on 702(b) – the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data
Ruling on 702(c) – the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods
Ruling on 702(d) – reliable application of principles and methods to the facts of the case


“The witness testified that he received the gun and bullet in question at the laboratory; and the gun and bullet were introduced into evidence. He also testified that he fired the gun twice, and that he compared the test bullets with the one in question. He testified to the procedure generally used and to the reasons why a comparison of bullets will reveal the identity of the gun which fired them. On the basis of these tests, he was of the opinion that the gun found on defendant’s person fired the bullet found in the complaining witness’s coat. The expert witness set forth the reasons for his conclusion, and it was for the triers of fact to determine how much weight to give to his testimony. It should also be noted that the bullet and gun in question were introduced into evidence, and that defendant was not foreclosed from conducting similar tests, either prior to or during trial.”




“Other jurisdictions also have allowed the conclusions of a ballistics expert even though demonstrative evidence had not been introduced. In McKenna v. People, 124 Colo. 112, 235 P.2d 351 (1951), the court held that the ballistics expert’s testimony was proper without the introduction of photomicrographs, stating that the latter were inaccurate to some degree. In State v. Wojculewicz, 140 Conn. 487, 101 A.2d 495 (1953), the court held that the introduction of the test bullet is not essential to the admissibility of the expert’s testimony. And in People v. Buckowski, 37 Cal.2d 629, 233 P.2d 912 (1951), it was held that the oral testimony of the ballistics expert as to the bullets in question was sufficient to support his conclusions.”