Dwight Lee Looney, Appellant v. The State of Texas, State

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Court of Appeals of Texas, Fort Worth.

Dwight Lee Looney, Appellant v. The State of Texas, State

NO. 02–15–00021–CR, NO. 02–15–00022–CR, NO. 02–15–00023–CR

Decided: January 28, 2016

PANEL:  LIVINGSTON, C.J.;  GABRIEL and SUDDERTH, JJ.

MEMORANDUM OPINION 1

Appellant Dwight Lee Looney appeals his convictions for aggravated sexual assault of a child and the resulting sentences.  We affirm.

In three separate cases, Appellant was indicted on multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, continuous sexual abuse of a child, indecency with a child, and indecent exposure to a child, thirty-three counts in all.  Appellant pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child in each case in consideration for the State waiving the remaining counts.  Following a hearing to the court on punishment, the trial court sentenced Appellant to life confinement on all twelve counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child with the sentences to run concurrently.  The trial court gave Appellant permission to appeal.

In each case, Appellant's court-appointed appellate counsel has filed a motion to withdraw as counsel, accompanied by a brief in support of that motion.  In the brief, counsel states that in his professional opinion, these appeals are frivolous and without merit.  Counsel's brief and motion meet the requirements of Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396 (1967), by presenting a professional evaluation of the record demonstrating why there are no arguable grounds for relief.  Appellant requested and received a copy of the record, but he has not filed a response to counsel's brief or motion.  The State has filed a letter stating that it would not file a response.

Once an appellant's court-appointed attorney files a motion to withdraw on the grounds that an appeal is frivolous and fulfills the requirements of Anders, we have a supervisory obligation to undertake an independent examination of the record.  See Stafford v. State, 813 S.W.2d 503, 511 (Tex.Crim.App.1991);  Mays v. State, 904 S.W.2d 920, 922–23 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 1995, no pet.).  In this evaluation, we consider the record and any arguments raised in the Anders brief.  See United States v. Wagner, 158 F.3d 901, 902 (5th Cir.1998);  In re Schulman, 252 S.W.3d 403, 409 (Tex.Crim.App.2008).  Appellant pleaded guilty as part of his bargain with the State, but his punishment for the twelve counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child was determined by the trial court.  Our independent review of the record for potential error is limited to jurisdictional defects, the voluntariness of his pleas, any error that is not independent of the trial court's judgments and one in which the judgments would not be supported absent the error, and error occurring after Appellant pleaded guilty.  See Monreal v. State, 99 S.W.3d 615, 620 (Tex.Crim.App.2003);  Faisst v. State, 98 S.W.3d 226, 226 (Tex.Crim.App.2003);  Anderson v. State, 985 S.W.2d 195, 196–97 (Tex.App.—Fort Worth 1998, pet. ref'd) (op. on reh'g).

We have carefully reviewed the records and counsel's brief.  The record clearly shows that Appellant pleaded guilty to the indictments freely and voluntarily and was given the appropriate guilty-plea admonishments.  See Tex.Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 26.13.  Appellant personally signed the plea-offer acknowledgements, indicating that he was informed of the State's plea-bargain offers.  As part of his guilty pleas, Appellant separately signed judicial confessions admitting to all elements of the charged offenses, which sufficiently supported the trial court's subsequent findings.  See Ross v. State, 931 S.W.2d 633, 635 (Tex.App.—Dallas 1996, no pet.).  Appellant's sentences were within the statutory limits for aggravated sexual assault of a child.  See Tex. Penal Code Ann. §§ 12.32(a) (West 2011), 22.021(a)(B), (e) (West Supp.2015). Having found nothing in the record that might arguably support the appeals, we agree with appellate counsel that the appeals are frivolous.  See Bledsoe v. State, 178 S.W.3d 824, 827–28 (Tex.Crim.App.2005);  see also Meza v. State, 206 S.W.3d 684, 685 n.6 (Tex.Crim.App.2006).  Accordingly, we GRANT counsel's motion to withdraw and affirm the trial court's judgments.  See Penson v. Ohio, 488 U.S. 75, 82–83, 109 S.Ct. 346, 351 (1988).

FOOTNOTES

1.   See Tex.R.App. P. 47.4.

LEE GABRIEL, JUSTICE