In May 1994, Matthew Musladin drove to the home of his estranged wife, Pamela, to pick up their 3-year-old son for a weekend visit. They got into an argument outside, and when Musladin pushed her to the ground, her fiance, Tom Studer, bolted from the house to defend her. Musladin pulled a gun, fired twice at Studer and killed him. Musladin claimed self-defense -- saying he believed that Studer had a gun -- but he was convicted of murder.
As in Cunningham, the issue before the court is not the crime itself. Rather it is the fact that during Musladin's 14-day trial, the judge permitted three members of Studer's family to sit behind the prosecutors' table wearing buttons prominently displaying pictures of the victim.