323 S.W.3d 875 (Tex.Crim.App. 2010), PD-0987-09, Winfrey v. State
|Citation:||323 S.W.3d 875|
|Opinion Judge:||HERVEY, J.|
|Party Name:||Richard Lynn WINFREY, Appellant, v. The STATE of Texas.|
|Attorney:||Shirley Baccus-Lobel, Dallas, for Appellant. Bill Burnet, Crim. D.A., Coldspring, Jeffrey L. Van Horn, State's Attorney, Austin, for State.|
|Judge Panel:||HERVEY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court in which KELLER, P.J., PRICE, WOMACK, JOHNSON, KEASLER, HOLCOMB and COCHRAN, JJ., joined. COCHRAN, J., filed a concurring opinion in which WOMACK, JOHNSON and HOLCOMB, JJ., joined. MEYERS, J., did not participate. COCHRAN, J., concurring, in which WO...|
|Case Date:||September 22, 2010|
|Court:||Court of Appeals of Texas, Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas|
Rehearing Denied Nov. 10, 2010.
Charged with the capital murder of Murray Wayne Burr, appellant was convicted of the lesser offense of murder and sentenced to seventy-five years in prison. We reverse the court of appeals and render an acquittal.
I. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In August 2004, Murray Wayne Burr was found murdered in his home. Evidence at trial indicated that the victim had been stabbed twenty-eight times and had received multiple blunt-force injuries, including a broken right-eye orbit and a broken jaw. There was no evidence of forced entry into the victim's home. The evidence indicated that the victim was dragged from his living room to his bedroom where his body was found. Family members reported that the only item missing from the victim's home was a Bible.
Investigators collected a variety of forensic evidence from the crime scene including: a partial bloody fingerprint, a bloody shoe print, and several hair samples. Neither the prints nor the hair samples matched appellant. Investigators were able to obtain a DNA profile from evidence at the crime scene, however, the profile excluded appellant and his family members. 1 Appellant's children, Megan (then 16 years of age) and Richard Winfrey Jr. (then 17 years of age), became persons of interest in the murder investigation. Texas Rangers interviewed appellant
approximately two weeks after the murder. Appellant was not considered a suspect at this time. During the interview, appellant stated that he had known the victim, that he had never been in the victim's house, that he had not seen the victim in four to five years, and that he assumed he was the number one suspect.2
In July 2006, the Sheriff's Department received new information about the Burr murder from David Campbell, an inmate in the Montgomery County Jail. Campbell testified at the trial that, while he was sharing a cell with appellant, appellant relayed information that he claimed to have heard about the murder; specifically, that " some kind of gun and some knife collection" were taken from the Burr residence. Appellant related other details to Campbell that he claimed to have heard about the murder, such as the victim's body being dragged from one room to another and the lack of forced entry. Appellant did not tell Campbell that he was involved in the murder.
To assist in the investigation, Texas Ranger Grover Huff contacted Deputy Keith Pikett, a dog handler with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's office. Deputy Pikett testified about a " scent lineup" that he conducted nearly three years after the murder in August 2007. He used his three bloodhounds, Quincy, James Bond, and Clue. This involved obtaining scent samples from clothing that the victim was wearing at the time of his death and from six white males, including appellant. The dogs were " pre-scented" on the scent samples obtained from the victim's clothing. The dogs then walked a line of paint cans containing the scent samples of the six white males. All three dogs alerted on the can containing appellant's scent sample.3
Based on this, Deputy Pikett concluded that appellant's scent was on the victim's clothing. Deputy Pikett testified on cross-examination that an alert only establishes some relationship between the scent and objects and that scent detection does not necessarily indicate person-to-person contact.4 Deputy Pikett also testified on
cross-examination that his understanding of the law was that convicting a person solely on a dog scent is illegal.
Appellant complained on direct appeal that the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support a conviction of murder. In its published opinion affirming the trial court, the court of appeals addressed the sufficiency of the evidence in a two-paragraph analysis. Concluding that the evidence was legally and factually sufficient, the court of appeals specifically found: (1) Deputy Pikett's canine-scent testimony provided direct evidence placing appellant in direct contact with Burr's clothing; (2) the jury could have reasonably concluded that appellant was in Burr's house at the time of the murder and that he had significant physical contact with Burr; (3) appellant shared information about the murder with Campbell that was not known, even by the police; and (4) appellant identified himself as the " number one suspect" in the murder at a time when the police did not consider him a suspect. Winfrey v. State, 291 S.W.3d 68, 75 (Tex.App.-Eastland 2009).
Pursuant to Rule 68 of the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure, appellant timely filed a petition for discretionary review. We granted review to address the following grounds presented to this court:
(1) An important question implicating the administration of justice is presented by the Court of Appeals' reliance upon a dog scent lineup to sustain the legal sufficiency of the evidence without regard to the inherent limitations of such evidence.
(2) An important question implicating the administration of justice is also presented by the Court of Appeals' failure to properly evaluate the factual sufficiency of the evidence by addressing the inherent limitations of dog scent lineup evidence.
Appellant contends the evidence, when viewed in a neutral light, is factually insufficient to support a conviction of murder. He further contends that the evidence, even when viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, is legally insufficient to support a conviction of murder. The State argues that the court of appeals applied the proper standards of review for legal and factual sufficiency and that a jury could have reasonably concluded that appellant murdered Murray Wayne Burr.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
We begin our analysis by addressing the question of legal sufficiency. When reviewing a case for legal sufficiency, we view all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and determine whether any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the
crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979). Consequently, we " determine whether the necessary inferences are reasonable based upon the combined and cumulative force of all the evidence when viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict." Clayton v. State, 235 S.W.3d 772, 778 (Tex.Crim.App.2007) (citing Hooper v. State, 214 S.W.3d 9, 16-17 (Tex.Crim.App.2007)). It has been said, quite appropriately, that " [t]he appellate scales are supposed to be weighted in favor of upholding a trial court's judgment of conviction, and this weighting includes, for example, the highly deferential standard of review for legal-sufficiency claims." Haynes v. State, 273 S.W.3d 183, 195 (Tex.Crim.App.2008) (Keller J., dissenting) (citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. at 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781). We must therefore determine whether the evidence presented to the jury, viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, proves beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant intentionally or knowingly caused the death of Murray Wayne Burr.
A. Appellant's Statement to Authorities
During trial, Texas Ranger Grover Huff testified that he interviewed appellant in 2004 and that appellant indicated that he was the number one suspect.
Q. And did he indicate whether he had ever been in Murray Burr's home?
A. He stated that he had never been inside of Murray Burr's residence.
Q. Did he indicate whether he thought he was a suspect?
Q. What did he indicate?
A. His statement to me was he was the number one suspect.
In closing arguments, the prosecution emphasized this statement as evidence of appellant's guilt.
I think defense counsel said in closing there is nothing to put Richard Lynn Winfrey, Sr., in that trailer. Nothing to put Megan Winfrey or Richard Winfrey, Jr. First of all, early in the investigation, when they were looking at Megan Winfrey and Richard Lynn Winfrey, Jr., Ranger Huff said he went and talked to Richard Sr. They were looking at the kids. Kind of interesting, what was Richard Lynn Winfrey, Sr.'s, words, " Well, I guess I'm the primary suspect here." He said he is the primary suspect at that point in time.
In its briefs to the court of appeals and to this Court, the State relies on appellant's statement as evidence of his guilt.5 Indeed, in affirming appellant's conviction, the court of appeals relied on appellant's statement, concluding that " appellant identified himself as the ‘ number one suspect’ in the murder at a time when the...
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