Williams v. State, AP-75,811.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
Citation301 S.W.3d 675
Docket NumberNo. AP-75,811.,AP-75,811.
PartiesAntonio Lee WILLIAMS, Appellant v. The STATE of Texas.
Decision Date16 December 2009
301 S.W.3d 675
Antonio Lee WILLIAMS, Appellant
The STATE of Texas.
No. AP-75,811.
Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas.
December 16, 2009.

[301 S.W.3d 680]

Roland Brice Moore, III, Houston, TX, for Antonio Lee Williams.

Eric Kugler, Jeffrey L. VanHorn, Austin, for State of Texas.


MEYERS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court in which KELLER, P.J., and PRICE, WOMACK, HERVEY, HOLCOMB, and COCHRAN, JJ., joined.

Appellant was convicted in December 2007, of capital murder. TEX. PENAL CODE § 19.03(a). Based on the jury's answers to the special issues set forth in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 37.071, sections 2(b) and 2(e), the trial judge sentenced appellant to death. Art. 37.071, § 2(g).1 Direct appeal to this Court is automatic. Art. 37.071, § 2(h). After reviewing appellant's fifteen points of error, we find them to be without merit. Consequently, we affirm the trial court's judgment and sentence of death.


Appellant was convicted of murdering Yolanda Styles and Vincent Williams during the same criminal transaction. Styles and Williams were cousins who came from Louisiana to Texas after Hurricane Katrina. In August 2006, they were murdered at the Candlelight Condominiums (hereinafter referred to as "the Candlelight") on Desoto Street in Houston, a location that police considered to be a "high crime" area. Appellant often hung around the Candlelight with his brother Anthony Williams (a/k/a/ "Newy") and his friends Terrell Ball and Lamont Houston. Appellant also frequented the Friendly Mart that was located in front of the Candlelight. Ball's former girlfriend, Maricela Ruiz, testified that these men sold drugs at the Candlelight, and that they needed guns "[b]ecause they sold drugs." Ruiz testified that she had previously seen appellant with a long, black assault rifle. She acknowledged that there was a feud between the Houston residents who lived in the area surrounding the Candlelight and the people who moved there after Hurricane Katrina. She testified that the feud was about "[t]he drug dealers."

On July 18, 2006, approximately three weeks before Styles and Williams were murdered, Officer Jason Countryman was working near Desoto Street. Countryman heard eight to ten gunshots coming from the direction of Desoto Street at 1:25 a.m. After being flagged down by a wrecker driver, Countryman went to the Friendly Mart on Desoto, where he observed the dead body of fifteen-year-old Christopher Harris on the ground. He also observed spent shell casings in the street "down towards the Candlelight." When Officer Jeff Cruser collected evidence at the scene, he recovered several 9 millimeter spent shell casings. Ballistics testing revealed that the shell casings were fired from a single gun: a 9 millimeter Luger pistol.

The assistant medical examiner who performed Harris's autopsy testified that Harris received three gunshot wounds. One bullet went through his left arm, then entered his chest and damaged his lung, esophagus, and carotid artery, before it exited his neck. Another bullet entered his lower back and his abdominal cavity, where it injured his ureter, intestine, and stomach. These were both fatal wounds. Harris also suffered a third grazing wound

301 S.W.3d 681

to his scalp. The bullets recovered from his body were consistent with a 9 millimeter Luger pistol.

Sergeant Bobby Roberts testified that a woman anonymously called Crime Stoppers with information about the Harris murder on July 20. The caller was later identified as Patricia Hawkins, a woman who lived across the street from the Candlelight.2 Hawkins testified at trial that she knew appellant because he had dated her daughter. She testified that she had previously seen appellant carrying a long, black assault rifle with a short handle, and that he called his gun "The Bird." Hawkins testified that she was standing outside waiting for a ride to work on the night Harris was murdered. She heard gunshots and saw appellant and two other men running across the parking lot. She observed appellant carrying the same assault rifle she had seen him with before.

Defense witness Jacqueline Cole testified that she was at the Friendly Mart at the time of the shooting. She testified that she was having car trouble, so she parked at the Friendly Mart and sat in her car. She observed "one guy" and "four or five girls" talking and "peeping around the corner" of the store. She saw one of the girls hand the guy a bag that appeared to have a gun wrapped in it. She saw a boy and girl walking down the street, and at some point the boy turned and ran. The guy with the gun then went around the corner and Cole heard shots fired. When the guy came back, he looked "very distracted," like he had "seen a ghost." Cole heard him say, "I shot," and she observed him hit one of the girls with the gun. She also heard one of the girls call him "Newy." Cole testified that "a white car pulled up and they all jumped in the car." After they left, Cole got out of her car and saw a boy lying on the ground with a gunshot wound. She was able to start her car about 15 minutes later, and then she drove to a service station and called 9-1-1. She did not identify appellant when she later viewed a lineup.

Styles and Williams were murdered at the Candlelight less than three weeks after Harris was murdered. Witnesses Miesha Morris and Sharonda Cooper were at Cooper's apartment at the Candlelight on the night of August 5, 2006. They were listening to music and talking when someone knocked on the door. Morris looked out the window and saw Williams standing at the corner of the building, looking to his right and his left. She then went downstairs and answered the door. Styles was at the door and said she was looking for Marlo Jones, who was Cooper's boyfriend. Morris told Styles that Jones was at the store. Styles said, "Okay. Tell him I came by. I'm going to see if he's at the store and I'll come back. If he comes back here, tell him to stay here. I'll be right back." Morris went back upstairs. Shortly thereafter, Morris heard two men outside arguing and cursing at each other. She and Cooper then heard gunshots, so they looked outside.3 As they looked down from Cooper's second-floor patio area, they observed appellant, who was wearing a hat and dark clothing, shooting Williams with a long, black gun. Williams fell down and appellant continued to shoot him as he crawled along the ground. Appellant then turned and fired several shots at Williams's car before running away.

301 S.W.3d 682

Morris called 9-1-1 and she and Cooper went downstairs. Morris testified that Williams was still breathing faintly, then his breathing stopped. Styles's dead body was slumped over in the passenger seat of the car. A crowd of people gathered at the scene. Cooper testified that a man named "Trey," whom she had seen with appellant before, "went in the car," took a gun from the front seat area, and left. Morris testified that some people in the crowd were "looking in the car and stuff," but she did not see anyone take anything. Morris and Cooper went back inside Cooper's apartment when the police arrived.

Officer Damon Richardson arrived at the Candlelight at 11:10 p.m. When he arrived, the fire department was already there and the victims' bodies were on the ground covered with white sheets. Investigator Philip Yochum and Officer Tracy Andrade arrived shortly after midnight. There was still a crowd of onlookers present at that time. Yochum observed numerous spent cartridge casings at the scene. A few of the spent cartridge casings were .380 caliber. However, the majority of them were 7.62 x 39 millimeter caliber, a type of ammunition which Yochum testified could be fired from an assault rifle. Yochum believed that the evidence indicated at least two different weapons had been fired at the scene. He testified that Williams's black Lexus had multiple bullet strikes and a flat tire, and that it was leaking a large amount of oil from its engine compartment. He observed blood spatter and spent cartridge casings in the nearby alleyway. He also observed two distinct pools of blood which indicated to him that Williams had been in two different areas.

Officer Andrade testified that she interviewed Cooper, Morris, and Jones inside Cooper's apartment. Andrade thought that Cooper and Morris would have had a good view from the balcony, noting that the area below was fairly lit with artificial light. Andrade attempted to talk to other residents, but no one was willing to provide any information. She testified that Morris and Cooper were somewhat hesitant to talk because they were worried that people might be watching. Morris later identified appellant in a photospread. Cooper testified that she initially told police that she could not identify the assailant because she was afraid and did not want to get involved.

Defense counsel called Jones to testify that he had seen Williams with a black semiautomatic rifle about a week prior to his murder. Jones testified that they were at the basketball court when Williams "was about to get into it" with somebody. Jones testified that he saw Williams pulling the gun out and Jones told him, "No, come on, let's go."

Sergeant Norman Kiesewetter inspected Williams's vehicle. He testified that there were approximately thirty bullet strikes to the car. He testified that "[t]he majority of them were [fired] from the front to the back, going from the exterior of the vehicle towards the interior of the vehicle." He acknowledged that some of the shots to the front windshield could have exited the cabin area of the vehicle. However, he affirmed that the origin of those particular shots was an "unknown variable."

Assistant Medical Examiner Sara Chauvin Doyle conducted the autopsies of Williams and Styles. Both of them died from multiple gunshot wounds. Williams had nine bullet entrance wounds and a grazing wound. Styles suffered seventeen gunshot wounds and a...

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