ARMANDO CHARLES JR v. THE STATE OF TEXAS

Reset A A Font size: Print

Court of Appeals of Texas, Dallas.

ARMANDO CHARLES, JR. , Appellant v. THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

No. 05–10–01520–CR

Decided: June 20, 2012

Before Justices O'Neill, Richter, and Lang–Miers

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Opinion By Justice O'Neill

A jury convicted appellant Armando Charles, Jr. of two counts of aggravated kidnapping and one count of burglary of a habitation with intent to commit aggravated assault.   On appeal, he argues the evidence is legally insufficient to support his convictions.   We affirm the trial court's judgments.

Background

On February 28, 2009, appellant saw Jose Gomez at a gas station.   The two had socialized in the past and agreed to meet up later in the evening.   Gomez received a call from appellant around midnight, and appellant met Gomez at the motel where he was temporarily staying.   The two men got high smoking methamphetamine.   Gomez said appellant was “paranoid, tripped out.”

Later, appellant said he wanted to go see Brandie Chavez, the complainant, and Gomez agreed to ride along.   The evidence is conflicting on whether appellant and Chavez were dating at the time or had broken up.   However, it is undisputed appellant was married and had children with another woman.

While driving to Chavez's home, appellant repeatedly called her, but she never answered.   Appellant was agitated because he could not reach her and because he believed Chavez was seeing another man.

When they arrived at Chavez's home, appellant ran to the front door, started knocking on it, and screamed for Chavez to open it.   No one answered.   Appellant then started looking in windows around the house.   He ran back to the car, grabbed a gun, and said, “He's in there.   He's in there.”   Appellant ran back to the front door and again started knocking.   When no one answered, he fired shots at the home.   He ran around the house again and then kicked in the front door.   Appellant went inside, and Gomez heard more shots fired.   Gomez then saw a man run out of the house and down the street.

Appellant went to the bedroom where Chavez and her young daughter were sleeping.   He pulled Chavez by the hair and dragged her down the hall.   He also punched her in the face.   Chavez and her daughter left the house in their pajamas.   Chavez did not take her purse, cell phone, or any other identification with them.   Chavez and her daughter were both crying when they left the house and when appellant told them to get in the car.   They continued to cry while in the car.

Appellant drove back to the motel and told Gomez to leave and not return until he called.   Appellant said he wanted to talk to Chavez.   Gomez said Chavez and her daughter were still crying and huddled together.

While they were at the motel, officers arrived at Chavez's home and talked to the man who ran away.   They observed many bullet holes on the outside and inside of the home.   The front door was open.   They also found Chavez's cell phone with many threatening texts messages from appellant.

Sergeant Stoney Logan called the number from which the texts originated and appellant answered.   Appellant admitted Chavez and her daughter were with him.

Officers located appellant's car by tracking his cell phone's GPS signal.   They pulled appellant over in a McDonald's parking lot.   Detective Jason O'Briant testified Chavez looked very tired, and the child was crying and saying, “Don't arrest my mommy.”   Chavez appeared to be nonchalant about the situation.   She said everything was okay, and “This is just a crime of passion.”   Sergeant Logan, who arrived on the scene shortly thereafter, spoke with the little girl, who “was shaken” but he also said Chavez was nonchalant and had an attitude.   He said she acted like the officers should not be there.   He also stated that in his opinion, she was scared but did not want to say anything.

Chavez testified to a different version of events.   She said she was in a dating relationship with appellant at the time of the events in question and that the man sleeping in her home was her ex-boyfriend.   She claimed she never heard any gunshots but woke up when appellant was standing in her room yelling at her about the ex-boyfriend.   She could not remember if appellant shook her to wake her up or whether he pulled her hair and dragged her down the hall.   She said he “may” have pulled her hair.   She did not remember receiving any of appellant's text messages.   While she admitted he punched her eye, she could not remember which one.   She admitted she did not know what appellant planned to do when they left, but nonetheless, she left with him anyway.   She testified she left voluntarily and neither she nor her daughter were under any threat or duress.   She also claimed she could have left the motel room at any time.

She testified appellant paid rent at her home and had a key.   He was free to come and go as he pleased and could enter the home any way he saw fit.

Despite Chavez's testimony, the jury convicted appellant on all three counts charged in the indictments.   He received a ten-year sentence for aggravated kidnapping of the child and received a five-year sentence, probated for ten years, for aggravated kidnapping of Chavez.   He was sentenced to ten years, probated, for the burglary of a habitation with intent to commit aggravated assault.

Discussion

In determining whether the evidence is legally sufficient to support a conviction, a reviewing court must consider all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and determine whether, based on that evidence and reasonable inferences, a rational factfinder could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.  Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 318–19 (1979);  Brooks v. State, 323 S.W.3d 893, 912 (Tex.Crim.App.2010).   This standard gives full play to the responsibility of the factfinder to fairly resolve conflicts in the testimony, to weigh the evidence, and to draw reasonable inferences from basic facts to ultimate facts.  Id. at 319.   When the record supports conflicting inferences, we presume the jury resolved the conflicts in favor of the verdict and defer to that determination.  Id. at 326.   An appellate court will not reassess credibility because the factfinder is the sole judge of witness's credibility and the weight to be given the testimony.  Id. at 319.

We are mindful of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals's recent reminder that we are to consider the combined force of all the evidence and not use a “divide-and-conquer” approach, separating each piece of evidence offered to support appellant's conviction, followed by speculation on the evidence not presented by the State.   See Merritt v. State, No. PD–0916–11, 2012 WL 1314095, at *8 (Tex.Crim.App. April 18, 2012).   With this standard in mind, we consider the evidence accordingly.

Appellant argues the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions for aggravated kidnapping because Chavez testified she and her daughter were with appellant voluntarily, were free to leave at any time, and were never threatened.   Based on her evidence alone, appellant argues there was “no credible evidence a kidnapping took place.”

To prove that appellant committed the offense of aggravated kidnapping, the State was required to present sufficient evidence that “he intentionally or knowingly abduct[ed] another person” and committed an aggravating element.   Laster v. State, 275 S.W.3d 512, 521 (Tex.Crim.App.2009);  see also Tex. Penal Code Ann. 20.04 (West 2011).  “Abduct” means to restrain a person with intent to prevent her liberation by (a) secreting or holding her in a place where she is not likely to be found;  or (b) using or threatening to use deadly force.  Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 20.01(2) (West 2011).   Using or exhibiting a deadly weapon during the commission of the offense is an aggravating element.   Tex. Penal Code Ann. 20.04(b).

By arguing that Chavez's testimony alone establishes that no kidnapping occurred, appellant ignores the proper standard of review.1  We must consider all the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict.   See Brooks, 323 S.W.3d at 912.   Viewed in the appropriate light, the following evidence supports the verdict.

According to Gomez, appellant and Chavez were no longer seeing each other.   Appellant was upset by the idea of her dating another man.   When Gomez and appellant were enroute to Chavez's home, appellant repeatedly tried to call her and was agitated he could not reach her.   Officers found threatening text messages from appellant on Chavez's phone that said “Damn, B. You really make me hate you.”  “You still got yours coming no matter where you at bitch.”   “When I find you, I'm going to kill you, bitch, you and whoever you're with.”

When appellant arrived at Chavez's home, he ran around the house, looked in windows, and claimed he saw “him” inside.   He proceeded to grab a gun from his car, fire several bullets at the house, and kicked in the door.   Gomez heard several more gunshots from inside.

Although Chavez was noncommittal about what happened inside the home before leaving with appellant, her daughter told Detective Doris Brown that appellant pulled Chavez out of bed by her hair and dragged her down the hallway.   The daughter also saw appellant hit Chavez in the face with a closed fist.   Pictures of Chavez showed red bruising around her left eye.   The daughter also said she heard her mother say “No,” but appellant told her to get in the car.

The jury also heard evidence Chavez and her daughter left the home in their pajamas, in the early morning hours, without any form of identification, purse, or cell phone.   A jury could infer from these circumstances they did not plan on leaving the home.

Gomez said both were crying and hugging each other as they walked out of the house and got into the car.   They were still crying when they arrived at the motel.   Based on this evidence the jury could infer appellant used or threatened to use deadly force to make them leave with him.

According to Detective Brown, the child seemed shaken up and was crying when she interviewed her after the incident.   Detective Brown described Chavez's demeanor as shaken, nervous.   It appeared Chavez had also been crying.   Chavez told Detective O'Briant it was a “crime of passion.”

The jury, as the sole judge of credibility, was free to disbelieve Chavez's contrary and often evasive testimony.   See Noland v. State, 264 S.W.3d 144, 149 (Tex.App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2007, pet. ref'd) (holding the jury, as the sole judge of the credibility of the witnesses and the weight to be given their testimony, was entitled to believe or disbelieve any part of complainant's testimony).   Accordingly, viewing all the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, we conclude the evidence is legally sufficient to support appellant's two convictions for aggravated kidnapping.

He further asserts the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for burglary of a habitation with intent to commit aggravated assault because he rented the house with Chavez.   Thus, he had every right to enter his own residence, and he did not enter against Chavez's wishes.

To prove appellant committed burglary of a habitation, the State was required to provide sufficient evidence that appellant, without the effective consent of the owner, entered a habitation with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or an assault.  Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 30.02(a)(1) (West 2011).   Again, appellant relies on the testimony of Chavez to support his argument and ignores the contrary evidence supporting his conviction.

While Chavez testified appellant had a key to the home, helped pay rent, and was free to come and go as he pleased, the jury was again free to disbelieve her testimony.   Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, the record reveals the following.

Gomez testified appellant was no longer in a relationship with Chavez.   Appellant was married to another women, and Chavez was seeing another man at the time of the incident.   If appellant had a key and could enter the home at any time, it was reasonable for the jury to infer that appellant would not bang on the door but would use his key to enter.   Further, if appellant could enter the home on his own free will, he would not have fired gunshots and kicked in the door when no one answered his knocks.   Accordingly, the evidence is sufficient to prove appellant entered Chavez's home, without her consent, and with the intent to commit an assault.

We overrule appellant's sole issue.

Conclusion

The judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

MICHAEL J. O'NEILL

JUSTICE

Do Not Publish

Tex.R.App. P. 47

101520F.U05

S

Court of AppealsFifth District of Texas at DallasJUDGMENT

ARMANDO CHARLES, JR., Appellant

No. 05–10–01520–CR V.

THE STATE OF TEXAS, AppelleeAppeal from the Criminal District Court No. 2 of Dallas County, Texas.  (Tr.Ct.No.F–0939164–I).

Opinion delivered by Justice O'Neill, Justices Richter and Lang–Miers, participating.

Based on the Court's opinion of this date, the judgment of the trial court is AFFIRMED.

Judgment entered June 20, 2012.

/Michael J. O'Neill/

MICHAEL J. O'NEILL

JUSTICE

S

Court of AppealsFifth District of Texas at DallasJUDGMENT

ARMANDO CHARLES, JR., Appellant

No. 05–10–01523–CR V.

THE STATE OF TEXAS, AppelleeAppeal from the Criminal District Court No. 2 of Dallas County, Texas.  (Tr.Ct.No.F–0939162–I).

Opinion delivered by Justice O'Neill, Justices Richter and Lang–Miers, participating.

Based on the Court's opinion of this date, the judgment of the trial court is AFFIRMED.

Judgment entered June 20, 2012.

/Michael J. O'Neill/

S

Court of AppealsFifth District of Texas at DallasJUDGMENT

ARMANDO CHARLES, JR., Appellant

No. 05–10–01524–CR V.

THE STATE OF TEXAS, AppelleeAppeal from the Criminal District Court No. 2 of Dallas County, Texas.  (Tr.Ct.No.F–0939163–I).

Opinion delivered by Justice O'Neill, Justices Richter and Lang–Miers, participating.

Based on the Court's opinion of this date, the judgment of the trial court is AFFIRMED.

Judgment entered June 20, 2012.

/Michael J. O'Neill/

MICHAEL J. O'NEILL

JUSTICE

FOOTNOTES

FN1. We note appellant has not challenged whether he committed an aggravating element but rather argues the jury should have believed Chavez when she testified she was not kidnapped.   We interrupt his argument as challenging whether he abducted Chavez and her daughter..  FN1. We note appellant has not challenged whether he committed an aggravating element but rather argues the jury should have believed Chavez when she testified she was not kidnapped.   We interrupt his argument as challenging whether he abducted Chavez and her daughter.

MICHAEL J. O'NEILL JUSTICE

Copied to clipboard