Lagrone v. State, 71731

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
Citation942 S.W.2d 602
Docket NumberNo. 71731,71731
PartiesEdward Lewis LAGRONE, Appellant, v. The STATE of Texas, Appellee.
Decision Date05 February 1997

Page 602

942 S.W.2d 602
Edward Lewis LAGRONE, Appellant,
The STATE of Texas, Appellee.
No. 71731.
Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas,
En Banc.
Feb. 5, 1997.
Rehearing Denied April 9, 1997.

Page 606

Allan K. Butcher, William S. Harris, Fort Worth, for appellant.

Steven W. Conder, Assist. Dist. Atty., Fort Worth, Matthew Paul, State's Atty., Austin, for the state.

Before the court en banc.


KELLER, Judge. *

In May, 1993, appellant was tried and convicted of three counts of capital murder pursuant to Section 19.03(a)(6)(A) of the Texas Penal Code for the murder of more than one person in the same criminal transaction. 1 TEX. PENAL CODE ANN. § 19.03(a)(6)(A) (Vernon's 1993). The jury answered the statutorily required special issues submitted under Article 37.071 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure in a manner consistent with imposing the death penalty. 2 TEX.CODE CRIM. PRO. ANN. art. 37.071(b) (Vernon's 1990). Accordingly, the trial court followed its statutory mandate to sentence appellant to death. TEX.CODE CRIM. PRO. ANN. art. 37.071(e) (Vernon's 1990). Appeal to this court is automatic. TEX.CODE CRIM. PRO. ANN. art. 37.071(h) (Vernon's 1990).

Appellant raises twenty-six points or error, but does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence at either the guilt-innocence or punishment stage of the trial. Because several of appellant's points are fact-intensive, however, we will proceed with a brief recitation of pertinent facts. Our review of the briefs

Page 607

and record indicates that the following facts were established at trial.

In May 1991, the Lloyd family was living at 2004 Amanda Street in Fort Worth. The Lloyd family included eight people: three homicide victims--ten year-old Shakeisha Lloyd, and Shakeisha's two great aunts, eighty-three year-old Zenobia Anderson and seventy-six year-old Caola Lloyd, as well as five survivors of the homicidal incident--Pamela Lloyd (Shakeisha's mother), Shakeisha's three siblings, and Dempsey Lloyd (Shakeisha's uncle).

Pamela Lloyd first met appellant in 1985, and the two were involved in a relationship for approximately six months. After their breakup, however, the Lloyd family maintained contact with appellant because he would intermittently visit the children at home.

On May 26, 1991, Pamela Lloyd noticed that Shakeisha's body was changing and that her breasts were getting bigger. Because this seemed unnatural, Pamela Lloyd took Shakeisha to the local hospital for an examination where she learned Shakeisha was pregnant. Pamela Lloyd then contacted the police about appellant's rape of her daughter. In response to the rape charges, the police took Pamela Lloyd to appellant's Arlington apartment where she asked appellant's sister to have appellant contact her. When appellant called her, Pamela Lloyd asked him how he could have "messed" with Shakeisha. Appellant denied having sexual relations with Shakeisha so Pamela Lloyd hung up the telephone. Later that day, however, appellant called Pamela Lloyd back to tell her that he was sorry for what he had done to Shakeisha and that he would take care of the baby. Pamela Lloyd responded with outrage because appellant had molested Shakeisha nine times, and threatened to press charges.

The next day, Shakeisha contacted appellant via his beeper, and Pamela Lloyd used the opportunity to inform him that Shakeisha wanted an abortion which would cost approximately $895 dollars. Appellant responded by assuring Pamela Lloyd that he would provide the abortion money. On Wednesday, May 29, 1991, appellant attempted to get Pamela Lloyd to drop her complaint by offering to give her $1000 dollars for the abortion and $500 dollars for herself. Pamela Lloyd, however, refused to withdraw the complaint. Appellant called later that day and told Pamela Lloyd that he would deliver the money for the abortion on Thursday.

That same Wednesday, appellant went to the Winchester Gun Store with his friend, Anetta Daniel. After supplying Daniel with the purchase money, appellant asked her to purchase a double-barrel, pistol-grip shotgun. Daniel purchased a Winchester slide-action shotgun which appellant put in the trunk of the his car. At trial, Robert Wilshire, an employee of the gun store, testified that this shotgun qualifies as a deadly weapon.

On Thursday, May 30, 1991, Pamela Lloyd got up around 4:00 a.m. to get some water from the kitchen because she was having trouble sleeping. After she had left the kitchen and entered the bathroom, somebody knocked at the front door and demanded that one of the Lloyds "open the door." Shakeisha's brother, Charles, identified the voice as appellant's, but Dempsey Lloyd answered the door. After allowing Dempsey Lloyd to open the door and ask him what he wanted at such an early hour, appellant shot Dempsey Lloyd with the aforementioned shotgun. Dempsey Lloyd subsequently grappled with appellant over the gun.

Following this struggle, appellant went into the front bedroom where Caola Lloyd was sleeping and fired a shot. Appellant then went into the kitchen where Zenobia Lloyd was washing clothes and fired another shot. As Pamela Lloyd and Shakeisha attempted to collect and hide the other children, several more shots were fired. Pamela Lloyd then discovered Shakeisha lying on the floor with "half of her face blown off." Although Dempsey Lloyd pled for mercy, appellant shot him a second time before leaving. Dempsey Lloyd was still able to go next door and call for emergency "911" assistance despite his severe wounds.

Following the above homicidal incident, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office performed autopsies on Caola Lloyd, Zenobia Anderson, and Shakeisha Lloyd. The medical examiner determined the cause of death

Page 608

for all three of the deceased victims to be a single homicidal incident. Caola Lloyd suffered an entry wound caused by a shotgun in the anterior portion of her neck going through the left side of her throat. She also had a defensive injury to her right hand resulting in the dismemberment of her index finger, which was consistent with her right hand being in front of her face when the gun shot was fired. Zenobia Anderson had an entry wound caused by a shotgun to the back of her neck. Shakeisha Lloyd had an entry wound caused by a shotgun to her left cheek and a corresponding exit wound just below the rim of the right mandible jaw bone. She also had an injury to her right hand, causing the total dismemberment of her ring finger. The medical examiner determined there were most likely two gun shots.

In addition, the medical examiner recovered a four-to-five month-old female fetus, which was preserved for blood and DNA testing. Dr. Arthur Eisenberg, a forensic pathologist, compared appellant's blood samples with those recovered from Shakeisha Lloyd, and conducted DNA testing to establish paternity. 3 Based upon this examination, Dr. Eisenberg concluded that appellant's paternity of Shakeisha Lloyd's unborn child was 99.999% certain; and testified that, with the exception of having an identical twin brother, appellant was the father of that child.

During the punishment phase of the trial, moreover, the State produced a fairly imposing catalog of relevant punishment evidence. First, the State introduced evidence that appellant had been convicted of murder in 1977, and received a twenty-year sentence. The State also produced numerous reputation witnesses who testified that appellant had a bad reputation for being peaceable and lawabiding. Finally, the State introduced evidence of several extraneous offenses committed by appellant.

On March 3, 1991, Officer Keith McGuire of the Fort Worth Police Department witnessed appellant flagging down cars in a manner consistent with drug dealing. The officer subsequently observed appellant toss a black pouch to the ground which was later determined to contain a quantity of crack cocaine.

On October 14, 1990, Officer Greg Abernathy of the Fort Worth Police department was involved in a routine investigation of potential drug trafficking, and received a tip about a local drug trafficker from one of the suspects. The tip led Officer Abernathy to a nearby apartment complex where he found a man matching the suspected drug trafficker's description--appellant. After being confronted by the police, appellant ran up some stairs and attempted to jettison a brown bag. The police laboratory later confirmed that the bag contained a quantity of cocaine.

On February 23, 1986, fifteen year-old sisters were returning home from a nearby Dairy Queen. While they were crossing the grounds of a local elementary school, appellant approached them and threatened them with a gun. Appellant took the sisters' money, forced them to remove their clothing, tied them up, and proceeded to force one girl to perform oral sex and molest her sister. After threatening to burn down the girls' home if they went to the police, the girls did not contact the authorities at that time.

We will address each of appellant's points of error in chronological order unless otherwise noted.


In his first four and eighteenth points of error, appellant argues that the trial court erred by restricting appellant's questioning of five members of the jury venire concerning their understanding of the term "probability." 4 Appellant's arguments center

Page 609

around this Court's decision in Woolridge v. State, 827 S.W.2d 900 (Tex.Cr.App.1992). In Woolridge, we held that the trial court's refusal to allow a defendant to question a veniremember regarding his understanding of the term "reasonable doubt" constituted reversible error. However, the Woolridge Court specifically distinguished its non-capital trial holding from the capital trial context because voir dire examination in capital trials is conducted on an individual, rather than collective, basis. Woolridge, 827 S.W.2d at 905; Wheatfall v. State, 882 S.W.2d 829, 835 (Tex.Cr.App.1994) (relying on Woolridge...

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