Thomas v. State

Decision Date25 February 1976
Docket NumberNo. 51013,51013
Citation533 S.W.2d 796
PartiesMelvin Eugene THOMAS, Appellant, v. The STATE of Texas, Appellee.
CourtTexas Court of Criminal Appeals

James P. Finstrom (Court appointed), Dallas, for appellant.

Henry M. Wade, Dist. Atty., Gary Love, Donald J. Driscoll and Billy Booth, Asst. Dist. Attys., Dallas, Jim D. Vollers, State's Atty., and David S. McAngus, Asst. State's Atty., Austin, for the State.


ODOM, Judge.

The offense was robbery by firearms; punishment was assessed at eleven years.

In the first ground of error, appellant contends the trial court erred, under Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, 88 S.Ct. 1620, 20 L.Ed.2d 476 (1968), in admitting into evidence a co-defendant's confession that implicated the appellant.

We do not agree. Bruton v. United States, supra, stands for the proposition that it is a violation of a defendant's Sixth Amendment right of confrontation to introduce into evidence a co-defendant's confession inculpating the defendant, provided that the co-defendant does not testify at trial. If, however, the co-defendant does testify, then he is available for cross-examination and there is no denial of the right of confrontation. As the United States Supreme Court has held:

'(W)here a codefendant takes the stand in his own defense, denies making an alleged out-of-court statement implicating the defendant, and proceeds to testify favorably to the defendant concerning the underlying facts, the defendant has been denied no rights protected by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.'

Nelson v. O'Neil, 402 U.S. 622, 630, 91 S.Ct. 1723, 1727, 29 L.Ed.2d 222 (1971). This is precisely what happened in the instant case. No error of constitutional import occurred by introduction of the co-defendant's confession into evidence.

Moreover, no violation of our evidentiary law concerning hearsay occurred. The confession was introduced into evidence by the State after the co-defendant who allegedly made the statements therein had testified favorably to appellant and contradictory to the confession. The trial court instructed the jury that the confession, even if found by the jury to be voluntary, was not to be considered as evidence of guilt of any of the co-defendants except the maker thereof. It was not error to admit the confession into evidence, and the ground of error is overruled.

In the second ground of error, appellant contends the trial court erred in stating to the jury, immediately after having charged them upon the law of assault and battery, that 'I bet I have read that a hundred times and I still don't know what it means, but it's a statute so I cherish it.' The record reflects no objection to the trial court's comment. Nothing is presented for review. The ground of error is overruled.

The judgment is affirmed.

ONION, Presiding Judge (concurring).

I concur in the result reached by the majority but do not believe the majority has made clear just what transpired in this joint trial of the appellant along with Chester Jackson and Kenneth Ray Price.

Initially, appellant contends the court erred in admitting into evidence at the joint trial the confession of Chester Jackson which implicated him. Reliance is had upon Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, 88 S.Ct. 1620, 20 L.Ed.2d 476 (1968).

In Bruton the Supreme Court, overruling Delli Paoli v. United States, 352 U.S. 232, 77 S.Ct. 294, 1 L.Ed.2d 278 (1957), held that despite instructions to the jury to disregard the implicating statements in determining the co-defendant's guilt or innocence, admission at a joint trial of a defendant's extrajudicial confession implicating the co-defendant violated the co-defendant's right of cross-examination secured by the confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment.

Subsequently in Roberts v. Russell, 392 U.S. 293, 88 S.Ct. 1921, 20 L.Ed.2d 1100 (1968), it was held that Bruton was applicable to the states by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment and was to be applied retroactively. The Supreme Court has had occasion to further discuss Bruton errors. See, e.g., Harrington v. California, 395 U.S. 250, 89 S.Ct. 1726, 23 L.Ed.2d 284 (1969); Schneble v. Florida, 405 U.S. 427, 92 S.Ct. 1056, 31 L.Ed.2d 340 (1972); Nelson v. O'Neil, 402 U.S. 622, 91 S.Ct. 1723, 29 L.Ed.2d 222 (1971). Likewise, this court has had occasion to consider Bruton-type errors. See, e.g., Carey v. State, 455 S.W.2d 217 (Tex.Cr.App.1970); Evans v. State, 500 S.W.2d 846 (Tex.Cr.App.1973); Hearne v. State, 500 S.W.2d 851 (Tex.Cr.App.1973); Moore v. State, 504 S.W.2d 904 (Tex.Cr.App.1974) (footnote #1); Ex parte Smith, 513 S.W.2d 839 (Tex.Cr.App.1974); Lewis v. State, 521 S.W.2d 609 (Tex.Cr.App.1975). Cf. Griffin v. State, 486 S.W.2d 948 (Tex.Cr.App.1972).

In the instant case we have a little different fact situation than in any of the above cited cases.

During the State's case in chief, no effort was made to offer the confession of the co-defendant Jackson. After the State rested its case, Jackson took the stand in his own behalf. He denied the robbery, and contended he only shot the store clerk in self-defense and testified favorably as to the appellant exculpating him of any wrongdoing. On direct examination, he related he had given a statement to the police. On cross-examination, he identified his signature on State's Exhibit #15 and admitted making a statement, but when he denied his rights had been explained to him prior to the statement, the State called the detective to whom the statement had been given and in the absence of the jury the voluntariness and admissibility of the confession were established. Thereafter in the jury's presence the State sought to impeach Jackson by asking him about certain statements in the confession which were contradictory of his earlier testimony. The confession itself was not introduced and none of the questions asked for the purpose of impeachment implicated the appellant. Jackson was cross-examined by the appellant and testified again appellant was not guilty of any offense. Subsequently the detective was recalled in the presence...

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6 cases
  • Crawford v. State
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
    • July 16, 1980
    ...although hearsay as to the appellant, was not inculpatory. Under such circumstances, any error committed was harmless. Thomas v. State, 533 S.W.2d 796 (Tex.Cr.App.1976). Appellant contends that the trial court erred in permitting the district attorney to read sections of David Mabra's inadm......
  • Aranda v. State
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
    • September 23, 1987
    ...Lewis v. State, 521 S.W.2d 609 (Tex.Cr.App.1975); Stutes v. State, 530 S.W.2d 309, 312 (Tex.Cr.App.1975); Thomas v. State, 533 S.W.2d 796 (Tex.Cr.App.1976); Ex parte Hammond, 540 S.W.2d 328 In the instant case the brother, Juan Aranda, who was jointly indicted but who had been previously co......
  • Ricondo v. State
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • April 13, 1983
    ...Sixth Amendment rights are violated. Nelson v. O'Neil, 402 U.S. 622, 630, 91 S.Ct. 1723, 1727, 29 L.Ed.2d 222 (1971); Thomas v. State, 533 S.W.2d 796, 797 (Tex.Cr.App.1976). It would appear even stronger in a situation, such as the case at bar, where the defendant on trial calls a co-defend......
  • Marmolejo v. State
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • February 28, 2019
    ...657 S.W.2d 439, 445-46 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 1983, no pet.) (citing Nelson v. O'Neil, 402 U.S. 622, 630 (1971); Thomas v. State, 533 S.W.2d 796, 797 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976)). Insofar as Appellant's argument might be considered to question the effect or extent of Stallings's testimony, Monar......
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