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Appellant Cynthia Wood was indicted for the attempted capital murder of her son, K.W. Wood attempted to suffocate the child twice while he laid in the hospital, brought in because he allegedly stopped breathing while at home. Wood entered into an open plea of guilty. She was sentenced to life imprisonment, and argued to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that her sentence was illegal because the indictment did not charge, and she did not plead to, attempted capital murder. Finding Appellant’s life sentence to be an illegal sentence, the court of appeals reversed Appellant’s conviction for attempted capital murder and ordered the trial court to adjudge Appellant guilty of attempted murder. The case was remanded to the trial court to hold a new sentencing hearing. The State petitioned the Court of Criminal Appeals to review the decision of the court of appeals. The high court held that Appellant’s sentence was not an illegal sentence, and reversed and remanded to the court of appeals to address Appellant’s remaining points of error. View "Wood v. Texas" on Justia Law

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In his petition for discretionary review, appellant Eddie Ette challenged the court of appeals' judgment upholding the imposition of a $10,000 fine assessed as part of his punishment for misapplication of fiduciary property. The fine was lawfully assessed by a jury, included in the trial court’s written judgment, but not orally pronounced at sentencing. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reduced the issues presented by this appeal as: (1) whether a trial court has no authority to alter a jury’s lawful verdict on punishment; or (2) whether sentences, including fines, must be orally pronounced in a defendant’s presence, and, as a matter of due process and fair notice, the sentence orally pronounced by the trial judge controls if it differs from the sentence detailed in the written judgment. The Court held the latter judicially created rule giving precedence to the oral pronouncement over the written judgment could not supplant a jury’s lawful verdict on punishment that has been correctly read aloud in a defendant’s presence in court. Accordingly, the Court held the trial court’s judgment could properly impose the fine against appellant despite the failure to orally pronounce it. Imposition of the fine was affirmed. View "Ette v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Appellant Fred Earl Ingerson III was convicted of capital murder for killing Robyn Richter and Shawna Ferris. The bodies of Richter and her friend Ferris, were found in Richter’s vehicle outside of a Japanese restaurant and sushi bar. They both were shot once in the head. Almost two years later, Ingerson was arrested for capital murder and was convicted. The State did not seek the death penalty; he was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Ingerson appealed, in part arguing that the evidence was legally insufficient to support his conviction. The court of appeals agreed and rendered an acquittal. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals concluded the court of appeals erred in finding the evidence insufficient, reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Ingerson v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Appellant Teodoro Hernandez was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and family-violence assault by strangulation. The evidence showed that Hernandez struck the victim on her head or body and that he strangled her, but it showed that he poured water down her throat while he was strangling her, not while he was striking her. The court of appeals held that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the aggravated-assault-with-a-deadly-weapon conviction, but on original submission, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed and ordered Hernandez’s aggravated-assault-with-a-deadly-weapon conviction reinstated. After the high Court issued its opinion, Hernandez filed a timely motion for rehearing. Finding no reversible error, the Court reinstated its original opinion reversing the judgment of the court of appeals, rejecting Hernandez’s arguments on rehearing. View "Hernandez v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Appellant Elizabeth Garrels was charged by information with the misdemeanor offense of driving while intoxicated (DWI). She was tried by jury. The State’s first witness was Trooper Christopher Lucchese with the Texas Department of Public Safety, who performed the traffic stop and roadside investigation that eventually led to Garrels’ DWI arrest. Garrels objected that her statutory discovery rights had been violated by the State’s failure to timely designate the trooper as a potential “expert” witness. Although the State had formally designated Lucchese as a potential expert witness prior to jury selection, that designation occurred less than a week before jury selection. As a result of this untimely designation, Garrels asked that the witness not be allowed to testify in any expert capacity. Although the trial judge was not inclined to grant Garrels’s request to “strike” the officer’s testimony, he was also averse to the State’s request for a two-week continuance so that the terms of the discovery statute might be satisfied. Faced with two unappealing options, the judge sua sponte declared a mistrial. A defendant has a constitutional right to have her fate determined “before the first trier of fact.” A trial judge may violate this right by ordering a mistrial over her objection; but if she consented to it, double jeopardy will not prevent her re-prosecution. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reiterated that, although consent may be “implied” from the totality of the circumstances, it must nevertheless be supported by record-based evidence. Because the court of appeals found otherwise, the Court reversed. View "Ex parte Garrels" on Justia Law

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Appellant Gary Carson was charged with three counts of assault on a public servant and three counts of bail jumping. After Appellant agreed to waive his right to appeal, the State agreed to waive its right to a jury trial and the case proceeded before the trial court. Appellant pleaded guilty to all six charges. The trial court accepted Appellant’s pleas, found him guilty, and sentenced him. Appellant then appealed his conviction. Having found that Appellant’s waiver of his right to appeal was invalid, the court of appeals affirmed Appellant’s convictions, but reversed the assessment of punishment. Because the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals found Appellant’s waiver of his right to appeal was valid, it reversed. The case was remanded, however, for the court of appeals to address whether an exception to the waiver rules nevertheless applied in this case in which the trial judge admitted that he considered facts not introduced into evidence when assessing Appellant’s sentence. View "Carson v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Roderick Beham posted several pictures on Facebook in which he appeared to “hold[] himself out as” a gang member. These pictures were shown in a punishment hearing as evidence of Beham’s character, and a law-enforcement expert on gang activity was called to explain their meaning and significance. The court of appeals held that this testimony was irrelevant and reversed Beham’s sentence. Because the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal thought the testimony was “relevant to sentencing,” it reversed the court of appeals. View "Beham v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Appellant was a family friend whom K.E. (victim) considered to be an “uncle.” On previous occasions, Appellant had twirled K.E.’s hair, rubbed her neck, and rubbed her arms. When K.E. was nine years old, her grandfather died. On the day of the funeral, K.E. was taken back to her house to retrieve a handkerchief. When they were at the house, Appellant began twirling K.E.’s hair and rubbing her neck, but he then did other things to her that were of a sexual nature. At trial, the victim, now an adult, testified to what the defendant did to her when she was nine years old. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals concluded this evidence was sufficient to support a conviction for indecency with a child by touching the breast. View "Arroyo v. Texas" on Justia Law

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A trial court entered two orders granting shock probation. The orders were identical except that the second order was styled as an “Amended Order,” containing additional findings of fact, and it was signed at a later time. Both orders suspended further implementation of Appellee Crispen Hanson's prison sentence and placed him on probation. The State appealed the second order, and the court of appeals dismissed the appeal for want of jurisdiction, concluding that only the first order granting shock probation was appealable. The issue before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was whether the court of appeals erred when it decided that the second order was not an appealable order. Because the Court concluded that it was an appealable order under Article 44.01(a)(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, it reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded the case for the court of appeals to consider the merits of the State’s appeal. View "Texas v. Hanson" on Justia Law

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A jury convicted Appellant William Rogers of aggravated assault and burglary of a habitation with commission or attempted commission of aggravated assault. The court of appeals vacated the aggravated assault conviction on double jeopardy grounds because it was a lesser included offense of the burglary. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted review of the court of appeals’ holding in the burglary case that the trial court’s refusal to instruct the jury on self-defense and necessity. The Court concluded the trial court's refusal to instruct on self-defense and necessity, if error, was harmful to the defense. Consequently, the Court reversed and remanded for the court of appeals to decide whether the trial court's ruling was made in error. View "Rogers v. Texas" on Justia Law