McCullough v. State, No. 07-81-0141-CR

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas
Writing for the CourtBefore REYNOLDS; COUNTISS
Citation680 S.W.2d 493
PartiesSanford James McCULLOUGH, Appellant, v. The STATE of Texas, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 07-81-0141-CR
Decision Date03 February 1983

Page 493

680 S.W.2d 493
Sanford James McCULLOUGH, Appellant,
v.
The STATE of Texas, Appellee.
No. 07-81-0141-CR.
Court of Appeals of Texas,
Amarillo.
Feb. 3, 1983.
Rehearing Denied March 18, 1983.

Page 494

Mann & McConnell, John Mann, P.C., Amarillo, for appellant.

Randall Sherrod, Dist. Atty., Dean C. Watson, Asst. Dist. Atty., Amarillo, for appellee.

Before REYNOLDS, C.J., and COUNTISS and BOYD, JJ.

COUNTISS, Justice.

Appellant was convicted of murder, § 19.02, Tex.Penal Code Ann. (Vernon 1974), and sentenced to 50 years in the penitentiary. He contends the trial court erred when it (1) refused to grant his motion for change of venue, (2) admitted bloody photographs of his victim, and (3) imposed a greater sentence on retrial than was imposed by the jury when appellant was first tried for the crime. We reform and affirm.

In September, 1980, appellant was convicted of murder and assessed 20 years in the penitentiary by a jury. Subsequently, appellant's motion for new trial was granted and he was tried again in December, 1980. At the second trial, the question of guilt was again tried before a jury, but appellant permitted the trial judge to assess punishment. The judge, who had also presided at the first trial, assessed 50 years in the penitentiary.

In the interim between the first and second trial, appellant moved for a change of venue under art. 31.03, Tex.Code Crim.Pro.Ann. (Vernon Supp.1981), with supporting affidavits, alleging that there was so great a prejudice against him in the county that he could not obtain a fair trial. The State controverted the motion and the trial court heard evidence from various witnesses. The State presented evidence that appellant could receive a fair trial in the county and appellant presented evidence that he could not. Appellant also introduced evidence of news media coverage of the crime and his first trial and conviction. The trial court's denial of his motion is the basis for his first ground of error.

Where, as here, the propriety of a change of venue is contested, the trial court's resolution of the dispute on its merits after a hearing will be reversed only if the court abused its discretion. McManus v. State, 591 S.W.2d 505, 516 (Tex.Cr.App.1980). When conflicting evidence on the issue is presented, the court seldom abuses its discretion by denying the motion, Chappell v. State, 519 S.W.2d 453, 457 (Tex.Cr.App.1975), even if the case has been publicized by the news media. Morris v. State, 488 S.W.2d 768, 771 (Tex.Cr.App.1973).

In this case, we find no error in the denial of the motion. Credible conflicting evidence was presented and the trial court resolved the conflict against appellant. By doing so, it did not abuse its discretion. Ground of error one is overruled.

By his second ground, appellant contends the trial court erred in admitting seven photographs. The color photographs depict the victim's cuts and wounds and the murder scene, the victim's bedroom, in vivid and gruesome detail.

Appellant advances two arguments against the admissibility of the photographs. First, he says, they were not material because the defense stipulated that the victim was stabbed to death. Second, assuming some of the photographs were admissible, appellant argues that others were cumulative, and introduced only to inflame and prejudice the jury.

In Martin v. State, 475 S.W.2d 265, 267 (Tex.Cr.App.1972), the general rule for admission of photographs in a criminal case is stated:

We hold that if a photograph is competent, material and relevant to the issue on trial, it is not rendered inadmissible merely because it is gruesome or might tend to arouse the passions of the jury, unless it is offered solely to inflame the minds of the jury. If a verbal description

Page 495

of the body and the scene would be admissible, a photograph depicting the same is admissible. (Footnotes omitted.)

Accord: Terry v. State, 491 S.W.2d 161, 163 (Tex.Cr.App.1973).

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the photographs. First, the appellant cannot, by stipulating the cause of death, deprive the State of the duty and function of presenting all relevant evidence to the jury, "nor avoid facing the full facts of the crime." Harrison v. State, 501 S.W.2d 668, 669 (Tex.Cr.App.1973).

Likewise, we do not agree that some of the photographs were merely cumulative and used solely to inflame and prejudice the jury. The photographs are extremely unpleasant to observe, but that does not make them inadmissible. Martin v. State, supra. The first four depict the victim or the scene from different angles and perspectives and aid the fact finder in understanding what occurred at the scene. The last three show the victim after the blood had been cleaned off the body, and aid the fact finder in understanding the medical testimony. Thus, each photograph is material, competent and relevant, depicts matters verbally describable, and clarifies or aids in the understanding of other evidence. Ground of error two is overruled.

By his third ground, appellant attacks the punishment assessed on retrial. After the jury assessed twenty years imprisonment in his first trial, appellant moved for a new trial and the State, apparently unhappy because only twenty years was assessed, agreed with the appellant that a new trial should be granted. The trial court then...

To continue reading

Request your trial
5 practice notes
  • Jackson v. State, No. 115-84
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • July 24, 1985
    ...The rationale of extending Pearce in these cases was not discussed, however, it (rationale) was discussed in McCullough v. State, 680 S.W.2d 493, 497 (Tex.App.--Amarillo 1983), by Justice Countiss for the court in the opinion on rehearing which cause was reversed on other grounds. McCulloug......
  • Texas v. Cullough, No. 84-1198
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 26, 1986
    ...more than 20 years. Id., at A-24.1 On appeal, the Texas Court of Appeals reversed and resentenced McCullough to 20 years' imprisonment. 680 S.W.2d 493 (1983). That court considered itself bound by this Court's decision in North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 23 L.Ed.2d 656......
  • Jackson v. State, No. 115-84
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • November 23, 1988
    ...the Amarillo Court of Appeals reformed the sentence to 20 years and affirmed the judgment of the trial court. McCullough v. State, 680 S.W.2d 493 (Tex.App.-Amarillo 1983). In discussing the lack of valid reasons for the increased sentences, the Court of Appeals quoted directly from "Those r......
  • Castleberry v. State, No. 166-83
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • July 18, 1984
    ...While the rationale of applying Pearce in these cases was not there discussed, it was discussed in McCullough v. State, 680 S.W.2d 493, 497 (Tex.App.--Amarillo 1983) (opinion on rehearing). There it was "The State argues that this case materially differs from Pearce because this appellant w......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Jackson v. State, No. 115-84
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • July 24, 1985
    ...The rationale of extending Pearce in these cases was not discussed, however, it (rationale) was discussed in McCullough v. State, 680 S.W.2d 493, 497 (Tex.App.--Amarillo 1983), by Justice Countiss for the court in the opinion on rehearing which cause was reversed on other grounds. McCulloug......
  • Texas v. Cullough, No. 84-1198
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 26, 1986
    ...more than 20 years. Id., at A-24.1 On appeal, the Texas Court of Appeals reversed and resentenced McCullough to 20 years' imprisonment. 680 S.W.2d 493 (1983). That court considered itself bound by this Court's decision in North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 23 L.Ed.2d 656......
  • Jackson v. State, No. 115-84
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • November 23, 1988
    ...the Amarillo Court of Appeals reformed the sentence to 20 years and affirmed the judgment of the trial court. McCullough v. State, 680 S.W.2d 493 (Tex.App.-Amarillo 1983). In discussing the lack of valid reasons for the increased sentences, the Court of Appeals quoted directly from "Those r......
  • Castleberry v. State, No. 166-83
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • July 18, 1984
    ...While the rationale of applying Pearce in these cases was not there discussed, it was discussed in McCullough v. State, 680 S.W.2d 493, 497 (Tex.App.--Amarillo 1983) (opinion on rehearing). There it was "The State argues that this case materially differs from Pearce because this appellant w......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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