Vasquez v. State, C14-90-738-CR

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas
Citation814 S.W.2d 773
Decision Date18 July 1991
Docket NumberNo. C14-90-738-CR,C14-90-738-CR
PartiesFrancisco VASQUEZ, Appellant, v. The STATE of Texas, Appellee. (14th Dist.)

Page 773

814 S.W.2d 773
Francisco VASQUEZ, Appellant,
The STATE of Texas, Appellee.
No. C14-90-738-CR.
Court of Appeals of Texas,
Houston (14th Dist.).
July 18, 1991.
Discretionary Review Refused
Oct. 30, 1991.

Page 774

Nick Barrera, Brian W. Wice, Houston, for appellant.

J. Harvey Hudson, Houston, for appellee.



DRAUGHN, Justice.

This is an appeal from a conviction for felony murder. In four points of error, appellant argues that the trial court erred by: (1) overruling his motion for instructed verdict; (2) permitting an assistant medical examiner to testify concerning the autopsy report prepared by another assistant medical examiner; (3) allowing testimony as to extraneous offenses; and (4) overruling appellant's request for a jury instruction on the lesser included offense of negligent homicide. We affirm.

During the early evening of December 12, 1989, appellant was seen driving a blue automobile in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store in Pasadena, Texas. There was another male, a Mr. Green, in the front passenger seat. A customer, Patricia Bethume, was walking through the parking lot and appellant's car passed very close to her. Green reached out and grabbed her purse. Ms. Bethume struggled with the man momentarily, but the car was dragging her along next to it and she almost fell beneath the wheels. After the passenger told her to let go of the purse, she complied. Several other customers witnessed the incident, some of whom were forced to move their children to safety as the car accelerated rapidly out of the parking lot. Other customers memorized the car's license plate to give to the police.

Several blocks from the store, Officer R. R. Rice, of the Pasadena Police Department, and his partner were writing a report when a blue automobile passed them at a high rate of speed. Immediately they took up pursuit and were informed by the police dispatcher that the car had been involved in a purse snatching. In the chase that followed, they reached speeds as high as 115 miles per hour. Numerous patrol cars were involved in the chase and police officers were forced to stop traffic at controlled intersections along the way to avoid collisions as appellant sped through red traffic lights. Officer Carolyn Denton, of the Friendswood Police Department, had stopped traffic at the intersection of Fairmont Parkway and Beltway 8 while appellant sped through and made a turn on two wheels. After appellant's car had passed the intersection, Officer Denton noticed a purse laying on the side of the road which she retrieved. It was later identified as

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belonging to Ms. Bethume. Appellant continued south on Beltway 8, making a U-turn at the next intersection, and sped north on the Beltway with Officer Rice in pursuit. Another patrolman attempted to stop traffic at the intersection of Beltway 8 and Fairmont Parkway by pulling his car across the intersection. Appellant's car, traveling at an estimated 80 miles per hour, swerved to avoid hitting the cars stopped for the red light, jumped the curb, and collided with a pickup truck proceeding through the intersection on a green light. The pickup was thrown 85 feet from the point of impact and the driver was thrown from the vehicle and landed 120 feet from the point of impact. Appellant managed to crawl from his vehicle and was arrested immediately. The passenger, Green, was pinned between the dashboard and the seat. The driver of the pickup died at Hermann Hospital following a Life Flight. Appellant was subsequently convicted of felony murder.

In his first point of error, appellant argues that the trial court erred in overruling his motion for instructed verdict because the evidence was insufficient to prove that appellant committed the underlying offense of theft. Specifically, appellant asserts what might be described as the "innocent chauffer" defense: that he was only driving the car and had nothing to do with the theft of the purse. He says that the record is devoid of any affirmative act involving him in the purse snatching, other than the fact that he fled the scene, increasing his speed and driving recklessly after police pursuit commenced. He contends that the State failed to prove any agreement between Green and appellant to commit the underlying crime of theft. Under the facts, we have no difficulty in finding sufficient evidence to sustain appellant's conviction.

In reviewing challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict to determine if a rational trier of fact could find all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Butler v. State, 769 S.W.2d 234, 239 (Tex.Crim.App.1989). Appellant was tried under the law of parties. The Penal Code provides that a person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by another if "acting with intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense, he solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense...." TEX.PENAL CODE ANN. § 7.02(a)(2) (Vernon 1974). Appellant's mere presence at the scene, in and of itself, would be insufficient to sustain the conviction for the underlying felony. Beardsley v. State, 738 S.W.2d 681, 684 (Tex.Crim.App.1987); Lacy v. State, 782 S.W.2d 556, 558 (Tex.App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1989, no pet.). In determining if a person is a party to an offense and bears criminal responsibility, the court should look to the events before, during, and after the commission of the offense. Beardsley, 738 S.W.2d at 684; Freeman v. State, 736 S.W.2d 154, 156 (Tex.App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1987, no pet.).

There was testimony that both appellant and Green were watching the customers in the parking lot in a suspicious manner as the two defendants cruised through the lot. As the car approached Ms. Bethume, with its lights off, appellant...

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11 cases
  • Garcia v. State, 05-91-00066-CR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • May 21, 1992
    ...examiner is not a police officer or other type of law enforcement personnel within the scope of rule 803(8)(B). See Vasquez v. State, 814 S.W.2d 773, 776 (Tex.App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1991, pet. ref'd). We do not construe article 49.25 to confer law enforcement responsibilities on the med......
  • Mills v. State, 11-91-108-CR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • February 11, 1993
    ...Saenz v. State, 843 S.W.2d 24 (Tex.Cr.App.1992) (not yet reported); Albrecht v. State, 486 S.W.2d 97 (Tex.Cr.App.1972); Vasquez v. State, 814 S.W.2d 773 (Tex.App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1991, pet'n Appellant, citing Prescott v. State, 744 S.W.2d 128 (Tex.Cr.App.1988), argues that statements ......
  • Martinez v. State, s. 05-91-00443
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • May 11, 1992
    ...1980). An autopsy report may be properly admitted into evidence as a business record or public record. Id.; see also Vasquez v. State, 814 S.W.2d 773, 776 (Tex.App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1991, pet. ref'd). In this case, Dr. Charles Odum testified that he supervised the pathologist who perfo......
  • Posey v. State, 05-91-00597-CR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • July 30, 1992
    ...admissible. First, extraneous offenses are admissible in rebuttal to a defensive theory. Montgomery, 810 S.W.2d at 388; Vasquez v. State, 814 S.W.2d 773, 777 (Tex.App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1991, pet. ref'd). Posey's defensive theory argued throughout the trial was voluntary manslaughter. T......
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