Reeves v. State

Decision Date06 May 1998
Docket NumberNo. 10-96-196-CR,10-96-196-CR
PartiesJack Wayne REEVES, Appellant, v. The STATE of Texas, Appellee.
CourtTexas Court of Appeals

Wes Ball, Ball & Hase, Arlington, for appellant.

B.J. Shepherd, Criminal Dist. Atty., Martin L. Peterson, Asst. Dist. Atty., Meridian, for appellee.

Before DAVIS, C.J., and CUMMINGS and VANCE, JJ.


VANCE, Justice.

Jack Wayne Reeves was charged by indictment with the murder of his wife, Emelita Reeves. 1 A jury returned a verdict of guilty and assessed confinement for 99 years and a fine of $10,000. Reeves appeals his conviction on eleven points, claiming both constitutional and non-constitutional error. Among other things, we hold that offering evidence of one's refusal to consent to a warrantless search is violative of the Fourth Amendment. We likewise hold that certain out-of-court conduct is inadmissible to infer guilt. Finding any error to be harmless under Rule 44.2, we will affirm the judgment.


Reeves was convicted on what the State concedes is a completely circumstantial case. That being true, the facts are unclear as to when, where, and how Emelita lost her life. It is undisputed that October 11, 1994, was the last night anyone other than Reeves saw Emelita alive.

Reeves retired from the military in 1985 and bought a house in Arlington, Texas. In search of companionship, he began a relationship with Emelita, who resided in the Philippines, through a dating magazine called Cherry Blossoms. In 1987, they were married and, except for a two year period when Emelita went back to the Philippines to give birth to their son, Kendall, resided in Arlington throughout the marriage. There is little dispute that this was a non-traditional marriage. Reeves married Emelita for female companionship, and she married him so her family could be financially secure and she could live in the United States.

Apparently, Emelita led various lifestyles. She had several Filipino friends in the Arlington/Fort Worth area, and she spent a great deal of time with them; however, Reeves was never a part of her social life. She did, however, occasionally go camping with Reeves at Lake Whitney. Emelita did not work, and normally spent days with one group of friends and nights with another. One of her close friends was Monalisa Pate. Like Emelita, Pate was from Cebu City in the Philippines. Because Emelita did not work and Pate did not have a car, it became normal for Emelita to take Pate to work and pick her up. Pate was the first person to contact the police with concerns about Emelita's well-being.

On October 11, 1994, after having lunch with friends, Emelita went to the mall to buy a leather jacket. Around 4:00 p.m., she received a "page" from Reeves telling her to come home. It is unclear whether she actually went home at that time or not. Around 6:00, Emelita arrived at Pate's house to take her to work. Emelita dropped Pate off and apparently went home. Around 10:00, Pate called Emelita, who explained that she would be unable to pick Pate up when the shift ended because a phone call was expected from the Philippines. At 11:00, Pate tried paging and calling Emelita again, but there was no response. Other friends tried calling around this time as well. Finally, at midnight, Reeves answered the phone, but because Pate did not want to talk to him, she hung up. The next day, Pate continued trying to reach Emelita, but without success. About 9:00 p.m. on October 12, Pate and Arnold Bowlin went to Reeves' home to see if Emelita was there. Not seeing Emelita's car, they called the police.

Officers Thomas "Chip" Oxedine and Douglas Hirschman responded to the call. Seeing Reeves "somewhat crouched" in the garage, Hirschman asked him to come out. The officers explained that they had received a call concerning Emelita's safety and asked Reeves if he could help them out. Reeves stated that she often leaves for long periods of time, and that his only concern was that she was not there to properly take care of Kendall. Believing Reeves' behavior to be somewhat suspicious, the officers asked permission to check the inside of the house, but Reeves declined to allow them into his home.

On October 20, Reeves gave a voluntary written statement to the police. He stated he had not heard from or seen Emelita since October 11 when she left their home to go to Dita Hayes' house. Emelita was never seen again. It was not until approximately October 1, 1995, that Emelita's body was found. Shortly thereafter, Reeves was charged with her murder.


The State called approximately seventy witnesses to testify about the events surrounding Emelita's disappearance and the recovery of her body, her relationship with Reeves and others, and Reeves' behavior both before and after her disappearance. The State presented no eyewitnesses, no forensic evidence, and no manner of death. Prosecutors conceded they had no idea how Emelita died. Her body had been disturbed by scavengers, leaving little to be discovered through an autopsy.

On the other hand, the State did produce a significant amount of circumstantial evidence against Reeves. Emelita was last seen on October 11, 1994. On October 12, Reeves replaced his old sofa-sleeper with a new couch. Evidence showed he cut the arms off the old couch so it would fit in the back of his truck and took the mattress out, making room for a body similar in size to Emelita's to fit inside. Receipts from Lake Whitney showed Reeves was there on October 12-13, placing him at the site where Emelita's remains were eventually found.

Testimony revealed that Reeves washed his truck the morning of October 13. Emelita's clothing, jewelry, cellular phone, pager, and personal items were found in Reeves' possession. Many witnesses testified she was never without her rings, cellular phone, and pager. Finally, there was testimony that Emelita would not have left Reeves without her son, Kendall.

Officer Oxedine testified he saw a utility vehicle similar to Emelita's Nissan Pathfinder in Reeves' garage the day after she was reported missing. In his statement to the police, Reeves denied any such vehicle was ever in his garage, stating there was only a motorcycle in the garage that day. The next day the Pathfinder was found "abandoned" in the Hypermart parking lot in Arlington. Friends testified that the Pathfinder was not in the position it would have been if Emelita had been the last person to drive it. Namely, the child's car seat was missing, the steering wheel was in the wrong position, and the seat was moved too far back for her to reach the pedals. Furthermore, the keys to the vehicle were found in Reeves' possession. Reeves had a neighbor, Edward Conston, sign a statement saying the last time he saw Emelita's Pathfinder was October 13, 1994. Although the statement made references to occurrences in December, Conston testified he signed it sometime in October, leaving the jury to question its reliability.

Reeves told contradicting stories about Emelita's personal items. He told the police she had her pager and phone with her, while he told others that she left her phone at home on its battery charger. Bills for the cellular phone indicated Reeves began placing calls with it on October 14.

Reeves' son Randall testified that shortly after Emelita's disappearance he saw his father cutting out sections of the carpet in the hallway. Within days of Emelita's disappearance, Reeves had the old carpet replaced. He was asked to keep the old carpet so it could be tested for evidence, but he did not. He stated to the police that he had told the carpet installer to save it, but the installer said Reeves paid him extra to haul it off.

When asked about Emelita's whereabouts, Reeves told the police she was with Pate. About the same time he told Pate that Emelita was with Dita Hayes. He told the police that Emelita must be somewhere engaged in prostitution because she continued to send money to her family in the Philippines, but the evidence revealed it was Reeves who was sending money to the Philippines in Emelita's name.

Nine days after Emelita disappeared, Reeves attempted to sell the Pathfinder, stating he did not want to pay insurance on it. Within a couple of weeks, he demanded his money back on the leather jacket that Emelita had put on lay-away on October 11. Reeves began looking for a new "life partner" through the Cherry Blossoms magazine in January of 1995. This was the same magazine through which he first found Emelita. Reeves filed for divorce in February of 1995.

As for motive, the State showed Reeves was very upset to hear that Emelita was seeing another man, Tony Dayrit. Although he did not mind Emelita's lesbian relationships, he was jealous of other men. Also, evidence suggested Reeves did not want Emelita to take their son, Kendall, if she left. He had told Emelita he would give her money if she wanted to leave, but that he would do anything to keep her from taking Kendall. Finally, there was evidence of physical abuse. Testimony revealed Reeves had hit Emelita on more than one occasion, and on the last day Emelita was seen alive, she was extremely upset because Reeves had pulled her hair and choked her.


Reeves showed the jury that Emelita married him for financial stability and for the opportunity to live in the United States. He portrayed her as a woman who lived an alternative lifestyle, staying out late nights and having affairs with both men and women. He also portrayed her as a liar.

Reeves relied on discrepancies in the State's witnesses' testimony and questioned the innocence of others. For example, Lynne Combs received two pages on her pager on October 13 at 1:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. The phone number was that of National Semiconductor, where Dayrit worked. The number had the digits 9-1-1 following it. Although Reeves did not testify, his counsel explained to the...

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