VAN RANDOLPH HADDER v. THE STATE OF TEXAS

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Court of Appeals of Texas, Dallas.

VAN RANDOLPH HADDER, Appellant v. THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

No. 05-09-00291-CR

Decided: January 28, 2010

Before Justices Morris, O'Neill, and Fillmore

OPINION

Opinion By Justice Morris

In this case, a jury convicted Van Randolph Hadder of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.   In two issues, appellant contends the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support the conviction.   We affirm the trial court's judgment.

Factual Background

Bryan Allen, a loss-prevention officer at Home Depot, testified he observed appellant enter the store, go to the electrical aisle, select four packages of twister connectors, then go to the garden section, where he put the connectors down the front of his pants.   Appellant walked through the garden section, passing all the cashiers, and out into the parking lot.   Allen testified he identified himself to appellant as a loss-prevention officer, showing his badge.   Appellant “tensed up” and tried to move away.   When Allen attempted to handcuff appellant, appellant struggled.   During the struggle, the merchandise appellant had put in his pants fell on the ground.   Then appellant pulled out a knife that was clipped to his belt.   The knife's blade was open, and appellant swung it “back and forth” at Allen's stomach.   Allen immediately stepped back and used his cell phone to call 911.   Appellant ran across the parking lot, where a police officer arrested him.   Allen said he clearly saw appellant pull out the knife with the blade open and swing it at him.

Bennett Wade, a Home Depot employee, testified that as he helped a customer, he heard people wrestling against a car located between six and eight feet from him.   He saw Allen struggling with appellant.   Four packages of merchandise fell from appellant's shirt, then appellant pulled out a knife with the blade open and swung it at Allen.   Wade saw Allen step back from appellant.   Wade testified the blade of the knife was three or four inches long.

Rockwall police officer Josh Stamper, who arrived at the store seconds after hearing a dispatcher's broadcast of the assault, testified he saw appellant, who matched the suspect's description, running across the parking lot.   Appellant had a “pocket knife” in his right hand.   The blade was not open.   Stamper drew his weapon and ordered appellant to the ground.   After Stamper handcuffed him, appellant claimed he had shown Allen the knife with the blade closed.   Stamper drove appellant back to the store.   Stamper testified the knife was a “folding lock-blade” knife that had a spring on it, allowing a person to open the blade with one hand.   Appellant's knife was admitted into evidence, and the jury viewed a DVD recording from the dash camera of Stamper's patrol car.

Rockwall police officer Robert McIntire, who arrived at the store after Stamper had detained appellant, testified his role was transporting appellant to the jail and writing a report.   While en route to the jail, McIntire asked appellant why he pulled out the knife.   Appellant said he pulled the knife to “get the guy away” from him.   At the jail, appellant admitted he pulled out the knife to get Allen away from him, but he said the blade was not open.

At trial, appellant testified he went into the store, took the twister connectors, hid them in his pants, and walked out of the store without paying for them.   As he stood outside the garden area, Allen confronted him about having the store's merchandise, grabbing appellant's arm.   Appellant claimed he then turned around, reached into his pockets, pulled out the merchandise, and offered it to Allen.   When Allen just looked at him, appellant dropped the packages on the ground.   Allen tried to grab appellant, ordering appellant to “get on the ground.”   Appellant said he ducked out of the way, then ran.   Appellant testified he noticed that his knife, which was clipped on his pants rather than on his belt, was about to fall off.   He pulled out the knife and ran.   Appellant testified he did not even look at Allen when he pulled out the knife, and the blade was never open.   During his testimony, appellant initially testified he did not know Allen was the loss-prevention officer because Allen never showed him a badge.   Appellant later testified, however, that both Allen and Wade had lied to the jury because Allen had a grudge against appellant due to a previous confrontation the two had at the same store three months before this incident.   Appellant testified he never threatened Allen with the knife and never told any of the officers that he displayed the knife to get Allen away from him.

Discussion

In two issues, appellant contends the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support the conviction and the jury's affirmative finding of a deadly weapon because there was no evidence presented (1) that the knife was a deadly weapon, (2) about the handle or blade of the knife, and (3) that in the manner of its use or intended use the knife was capable of causing any injury.   In reviewing a challenge to the legal sufficiency of the evidence, we examine the evidence to determine whether any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.   Vodochodsky v. State, 158 S.W.3d 502, 509 (Tex.Crim.App.2005).   We review all the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, and assume the trier of fact resolved conflicts in the testimony, weighed the evidence, and drew reasonable inferences in a manner that supports the verdict.   See Rollerson v. State, 227 S.W.3d 718, 724 (Tex.Crim.App.2007).

In a factual sufficiency review, we view all of the evidence in a neutral light to determine whether the fact-finder's verdict of guilt was rationally justified.   See Roberts v. State, 220 S.W.3d 521, 524 (Tex.Crim.App.), cert. denied, 552 U.S. 920 (2007);  see also Marshall v. State, 210 S.W.3d 618, 625 (Tex.Crim.App.2006), cert. denied, 552 U.S. 842 (2007).   Unless the record clearly reveals a different result is appropriate, we must defer to the fact-finder's determination concerning what weight to give to contradictory testimony.  Lancon v. State, 253 S.W.3d 699, 705 (Tex.Crim.App.2008).

A deadly weapon is anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury, or anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.   See McCain v. State, 22 S.W.3d 497, 502-03 (Tex.Crim.App.2000).   A deadly weapon finding may be made, if otherwise supported by the evidence, regardless of whether any injury was inflicted.   See Villarreal v. State, 255 S.W.3d 205, 209 (Tex.App.-Waco, 2008, no pet.).

Here, the evidence shows appellant had a knife when he struggled with Allen.   Appellant testified he never opened the blade of the knife and never threatened Allen with the knife.   Allen, however, told the jury appellant pulled out the knife with the blade open and swung the knife toward his stomach.   Wade told the jury he saw appellant pull out the knife with the blade open.

The jury was able to see the knife and take note of its physical characteristics.   See Robertson v. State, 163 S.W.3d 730, 734 (Tex.Crim.App.2005) (when knife introduced into evidence, the fact-finder has the opportunity to examine it and ascertain for itself whether the weapon had physical characteristics that revealed its deadly nature).   Moreover, the jury was free to accept or reject any or all of a witness's testimony and to draw reasonable inferences from the testimony.   See Tex.Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 38.04 (Vernon 1979);  Rollerson, 227 S.W.3d at 724 (the trier of fact draws reasonable inferences in a manner that supports the verdict).

Viewed under the proper standards, we conclude the evidence is legally and factually sufficient to support the jury's deadly weapon finding and the conviction.   We resolve appellant's two issues against him.   We affirm the trial court's judgment.

JOSEPH B. MORRIS JUSTICE

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