Haley v. State, PD-1531-03.

CourtSupreme Court of Texas
Citation173 S.W.3d 510
Docket NumberNo. PD-1531-03.,PD-1531-03.
PartiesKimberly HALEY, Appellant v. The STATE of Texas.
Decision Date05 October 2005

Page 510

173 S.W.3d 510
Kimberly HALEY, Appellant
The STATE of Texas.
No. PD-1531-03.
Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas.
October 5, 2005.

Page 511

Terrence W. Kirk, Austin, TX, for Appellant.

Sally E. Swanson, Asst. District Atty., Matthew Paul, State's Atty., Austin, TX, for State.


KEASLER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court in which PRICE, WOMACK, JOHNSON, HERVEY, HOLCOMB, and COCHRAN, JJ., joined.

In the punishment phase of Kimberly Haley's cocaine possession trial, the State introduced evidence of Haley's participation in an extraneous murder offense and testimony of the murder victim's mother. Holding the evidence "insufficient" to find Haley guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the murder, the Court of Appeals found error. The court also found error in the admission of the mother's testimony. We find error only in admitting the victim's mother's testimony and affirm the court's judgment.

I. Facts

Kimberly Haley was charged by indictment with the offense of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver cocaine in the amount of four grams or

Page 512

more but less than 200 grams. Haley was tried in a joint trial with co-defendant Kristofer Marsh, who faced the same indicted offense after being previously convicted of the unrelated murder of Michael Adelman. After the jury found Haley guilty as charged in the indictment, the State introduced punishment evidence describing Haley's involvement in Adelman's murder. Because this appeal centers on the admission of this evidence, a brief summary of the admitted testimony is appropriate. Testimony in the punishment phase revealed the following:

On October 5, 2000, Haley and her friend Ronnie Maxwell were drinking and dancing at a club located in downtown Austin. While they were dancing, Michael Adelman approached and proceeded to dance with them. Haley was offended by Adelman's persistent touching while they danced, and proceeded to call her boyfriend, co-defendant Kristopher Marsh, to tell him about the incident. After Marsh arrived at the club, Haley grabbed Adelman's nipple as he walked by and stated "We are going to start some s — t." Adelman laughed and pushed Haley's hand away.

When Adelman and his friends left the bar, Haley, Marsh, and Maxwell followed Adelman in Marsh's vehicle. They followed the vehicle until it stopped at Adelman's apartment complex. Armed with a bat, Marsh quickly exited his vehicle and ran towards Adelman. Haley immediately moved to the driver's seat, turned the lights off, and reversed the vehicle. Marsh approached from behind as Adelman was directing a friend into a parking space and struck him several times with a bat. Marsh also struck the driver's side window where Adelman's friend was sitting, shattering the glass throughout the car. Haley quickly drove towards Marsh, who jumped into the car, and sped away. In the car after the attack, Marsh laughed as he told them that "[t]here is no way he is getting up" after he "kept hitting him and hitting him." Haley kissed and praised Marsh by saying, "You finally did it." After five days in intensive care, Michael Adelman was pronounced brain dead. Adelman's mother, Arleen Adelman testified to her family's suffering, Michael's treatment, and the family's decision to donate his organs.

Upon the close of evidence, the trial court charged the jury on extraneous offense and bad acts evidence. The charge stated that the jury "cannot consider such acts or transactions, if any, unless you first find and believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed such acts or participated in such transactions...." The instructions did not contain a charge on the law of parties. The jury assessed both defendants' punishment at confinement for sixty-five years.

II. Court of Appeals

After reviewing the State's punishment evidence, the Court of Appeals held that "[t]he evidence shows that appellant's co-defendant Marsh murdered Michael Adelman; appellant could only be criminally responsible for Adelman's murder if the evidence showed beyond a reasonable doubt her guilt as a party to that offense."1 Concluding the evidence was insufficient to prove Haley's guilt as a party beyond a reasonable doubt, the court found the trial court abused its discretion in admitting this punishment evidence.2

The Court of Appeals also found error in the trial court's failure to include a definition

Page 513

of the law of parties in its charge to the jury.3 The court held that the jury must first find Haley guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of committing Adelman's murder as a party before it could give any consideration to this evidence in assessing Haley's punishment.4 Therefore, the court reasoned, without a law-of-parties definition, the trial court condoned the jury's use of this punishment evidence without a key component necessary in finding criminal liability.5 The court went on to say that contrary to Texas Penal Code section 7.02 and this state's precedent on criminal party liability, the instruction permitted the jury to

believe[] that appellant's presence at the scene of the crime and fleeing from the scene with Marsh was sufficient "participation" in the offense for the jury to consider the evidence in assessing appellant's punishment. Appellant's presence at the scene and flight therefrom with Marsh would not be sufficient to make appellant a party to the offense.6

The court then conducted an egregious-harm analysis where it found this error deprived Haley of a fair and impartial trial.7 The court held the error in submitting evidence of the Adelman murder and the error in the jury instructions entitled Haley to a new punishment trial.

Additionally, the court found error in the admission of victim-impact testimony proffered by Arleen Adelman.8 Relying on this Court's opinion in Cantu v. State,9 the court held it was error to admit victim-impact evidence relating to the extraneous offense of murder because Haley was charged only with possession of cocaine and the indictment did not contain a named victim.10 After reviewing the State's closing arguments and the record as a whole, the court concluded that the arguments "stressed and overemphasized" this evidence in justifying a severe punishment which substantially affected and influenced the jury's punishment assessment.11 We granted the State's petition for discretionary review in light of these holdings.

III. Analysis
A. Evidence Admissibility

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 37.07 § 3(a) is one of the guiding principles governing the admissibility of evidence at the punishment phase of a trial.12 Article 37.07 § 3(a) states in relevant part:

[E]vidence may be offered by the state and the defendant as to any matters the court deems relevant to sentencing including but not limited to ... evidence of an extraneous crime or bad act that is shown beyond a reasonable doubt by evidence to have been committed by the defendant or for which he could be held criminally responsible, regardless of whether he has previously been charged with or finally convicted of the crime or

Page 514


The State argues that the Court of Appeals erred in finding error in admitting this evidence by failing to review this evidence under a "bad act" theory of admissibility. Haley responds to the State's ground of review by contending this theory of admissibility was never presented to the Court of Appeals, and therefore is not properly before this Court. While the State never expressly advanced the bad act theory in its brief before the lower court and a detailed analysis is not found in its decision, the Court of Appeals nevertheless implicitly decided this issue in its resolution of this case.14 By holding that the only way the jury could consider this evidence under article 37.07 in assessing punishment was to first find Haley guilty beyond reasonable doubt for Adelman's murder, the Court of Appeals rejected the argument that this evidence could be admissible as a bad act.15 Therefore, this implicit holding is a decision of the Court of Appeals and the State's argument warrants review.

The Court of Appeals held that the evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Haley was guilty as a party to the offense of Adelman's murder; therefore the trial court abused its discretion in admitting and permitting the jury to consider this evidence in assessing Haley's punishment. The Court of Appeals misreads article 37.07 § 3(a). And as a result, the court mis-characterizes the purpose of character evidence.

When determining the admissibility of evidence under article 37.07, a court must be guided by the language of its provisions.16 We look solely to the statute's plain language for its meaning unless its text is ambiguous or the application of its plain language would lead to an absurd result that the Legislature could not have possibly intended.17 Article 37.07 § 3(a)' s language cannot be labeled ambiguous, nor does the plain-language application lead to absurd results unintended by the Legislature.

We have held this provision's unambiguous wording to mean, for purposes of assessing punishment, that the prosecution may offer evidence of any extraneous crime or bad act that is shown, beyond a reasonable doubt, either to have been (1) an act committed by the defendant or (2) an act for which he could be held criminally responsible.18 For purposes of this case, several principles are apparent from article 37.07 § 3(a)'s text. First, § 3(a) does not contemplate any significant distinction between the terms "bad act" or "extraneous offense." The statute expressly states "evidence of an extraneous crime or bad act ... to have been committed by the defendant or for which he could be held criminally responsible."19 Under this statute, it is irrelevant whether the conduct the offering party is attempting to prove is, or can be characterized, as an

Page 515

offense under the Texas Penal Code. The...

To continue reading

Request your trial
381 cases
  • Newton v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • June 13, 2007
    ...we decide whether "the error had a substantial and injurious effect or influence in determining the jury's verdict." Haley v. State, 173 S.W.3d 510, 518 (Tex.Crim.App.2005). If we have "`a grave doubt' that the result [of the underlying proceeding] was free from the substantial influence of......
  • Soffar v. Stephens, CIVIL ACTION NO. H-12-3783
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • December 18, 2014
    ...testimony is irrelevant when it involves the victim of an extraneous offense who is not named in the indictment. Haley v. State, 173 S.W.3d 510, 517-19 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005); Cantu, 939 S.W.2d at 637. Soffar must show that trial counsel possessed, and then failed to act on, a viable object......
  • Foreman v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • August 10, 2017
    ...and injurious effect or influence on the verdict, we must review the error in relation to the entire proceeding. Haley v. State , 173 S.W.3d 510, 518 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005). "[I]f the appellate court, after examining the record as a whole, has fair assurance that the error did not influence......
  • Jessop v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • April 19, 2012
    ...Preservation of error is a systemic requirement on appeal. Ford v. State, 305 S.W.3d 530, 532 (Tex.Crim.App.2009); Haley v. State, 173 S.W.3d 510, 515 (Tex.Crim.App.2005). A reviewing court should not address the merits of an issue that has not been preserved for appeal.42Wilson v. State, 3......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Punishment phase
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Texas Criminal Lawyer's Handbook. Volume 1-2 Volume 2
    • May 5, 2022
    ...as a drug possession case), victim impact evidence with regard to an extraneous offense is irrelevant under Rule 401. Haley v. State, 173 S.W.3d 510 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005). Booth v. Maryland held that the Eighth Amendment prohibits a court from admitting the opinions of a victim’s family me......
  • Punishment phase
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Texas Criminal Forms - Volume 1-2 Volume II
    • April 2, 2022
    ...is an offense with a victim. The offense of (offense) is a victimless offense as contained in the Texas Penal Code. See Haley v. State , 173 S.W.3d 510, 517-18 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005); Cantu v. State , 939 S.W.2d 627, 630 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997). Page __ box __ The Defendant objects to this e......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT