LETREVIAN DEYAWNTE HERNDON v. THE STATE OF TEXAS

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Court of Appeals of Texas, Dallas.

LETREVIAN DEYAWNTE HERNDON, Appellant v. THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

No. 05–11–00248–CR

Decided: June 22, 2012

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

OPINION

Opinion By Justice Lang–Miers

Appellant Letrevian Deyawnte Herndon was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and sentenced to six and one half years' imprisonment.   In one issue on appeal appellant argues that the criminal district court lacked jurisdiction because the juvenile court's waiver of exclusive jurisdiction was invalid.   We resolve appellant's sole issue against him and affirm.

Background

When appellant was 16 years old he shot and killed his friend Parris Gaehring while riding in the back seat of a car that Gaehring was driving.   Appellant was charged with murder and his case was filed in juvenile court.   The State filed a petition for discretionary transfer so that appellant could stand trial as an adult.   The juvenile court waived its jurisdiction as to the murder charge and as to “all criminal offenses occurring in said criminal episode of which said offense the said Court has jurisdiction.”   A grand jury later no-billed the murder charge and appellant was ultimately indicted for manslaughter.   He pleaded not guilty and his case was tried to a jury.   The jury found appellant guilty of the lesser included offense of criminally negligent homicide and assessed punishment at six and one-half years' imprisonment.

Issue on Appeal

On appeal appellant argues that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because the juvenile court waived its exclusive jurisdiction only as to the murder charge.   In other words, appellant contends that after the grand jury no-billed the murder charge, the criminal district court lost jurisdiction and the State was required to seek another transfer in order to try appellant on a manslaughter charge arising from the same criminal episode.   In response, the State argues that the transfer order was sufficient because the manslaughter offense occurred in the same criminal episode, and that the State was not required to obtain a transfer order that specifically stated that appellant could be tried for the lesser included offense of manslaughter.   We agree with the State.

To support his argument appellant relies on section 54.02(m)(1)(A) of the Texas Family Code, which states that “the juvenile court shall waive its exclusive original jurisdiction and transfer a child to the appropriate district court or criminal court for criminal proceedings if [ ] the child has previously been transferred to a district court for criminal proceedings under the section, unless [ ] the child was not indicted in the matter transferred by the grand jury.”  Tex. Fam.Code Ann. § 54.02(m)(1)(A) (West Supp.2011).   Appellant essentially contends that he was not indicted in the matter transferred because the jury no-billed the murder charge.   But a juvenile court waives jurisdiction with respect to conduct, not with respect to a particular charge.   See generally Livar v. State, 929 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 1996, pet. ref'd) (“A juvenile court waives jurisdiction only with respect to conduct[.]”).  Stated differently, because a juvenile court waives jurisdiction with respect to conduct, a juvenile court's transfer order is not required to apprise the defendant of the specific crimes for which he might be charged.   See Tatum v. State, 534 S.W.2d 678, 680 (Tex.Crim.App.1976) (noting section 54.02 does not require “the juvenile court's transfer order to apprise appellant of the specific crimes for which he might be charged”).   And once a juvenile court waives jurisdiction, the criminal court to which the case is transferred has jurisdiction to adjudicate for the same conduct for which the juvenile court waived jurisdiction.   See generally Livar, 929 S.W.2d at 574 (“a criminal court has jurisdiction to adjudicate only for the same conduct for which the juvenile court transferred jurisdiction”).   In this case the conduct for which the State sought to transfer appellant was the shooting death of Gaehring.   The juvenile court waived jurisdiction and transferred appellant to criminal district court for the murder of Gaehring “and all criminal offenses occurring in said criminal episode.”   Appellant was later indicted and tried for manslaughter for recklessly causing Gaehring's death.   This offense involved the same conduct and occurred in the same criminal episode.   As a result, section 54.02(m)(1)(A) of the family code did not deprive the criminal district court of jurisdiction.

We resolve appellant's sole issue against him and affirm.

S

Court of AppealsFifth District of Texas at DallasJUDGMENT

LETREVIAN DEYAWNTE HERNDON, Appellant

No. 05–11–00248–CR V.

THE STATE OF TEXAS, AppelleeAppeal from the Criminal District Court No. 1 of Dallas County, Texas.  (Tr.Ct.No.F09–00088–H).

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

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

Judgment entered June 22, 2012.

/Elizabeth Lang–Miers/

ELIZABETH LANG–MIERS

JUSTICE

ELIZABETH LANG–MIERS JUSTICE

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