JASON RAY PICKETT v. THE STATE OF TEXAS

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Court of Appeals of Texas, El Paso.

JASON RAY PICKETT, Appellant, v. THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee.

No. 08-15-00022-CR

Decided: January 12, 2018

Before McClure, C.J., Rodriguez, and Hughes, JJ.

OPINION

Appellant, Jason Ray Pickett, challenges his three convictions of aggravated robbery.1 In this companion case, Appellant appeals his conviction in cause number 1374153R, in which Jeff Tang was the named victim.2 In a single issue, Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction for the aggravated robbery of Amara Chan and Cathy Swartz .

I. BACKGROUND

On the evening of May 29, 2013, Amara Chan and Cathy Swartz were having dinner at Tang's Pacific Bistro in Fort Worth, Texas. Jeff Tang, the Bistro's manager, was also having dinner at the bar. Sometime between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m., Tang saw a pickup truck drive up and park near the side of the Bistro. A man in sunglasses, who Tang identified in court as Appellant, entered the restaurant, walked behind the bar and in front of where Chan and Swartz were sitting.

Appellant stood next to the tending cashier, Jazmine Paredez, and flashed a firearm while keeping it in his right pocket. Appellant, whispering to Paredez, demanded she give him money and Swartz, after seeing Paredez's reaction, exclaimed, “are you f-----g kidding me?” In response to Swartz's statement, Appellant pulled the firearm out of his pocket and pointed it at Swartz's head. Swartz reacted by ducking her head. Appellant then announced that he was committing a robbery and demanded money as he walked around the bar, behind Chan and Swartz.

Appellant then began waiving the gun towards the other Bistro patrons, including Tang and Paradez, as he stood behind Chan and Swartz. When Appellant pointed the gun at Tang, Tang raised his hands. Tang directed Paredez to give Appellant the money from the cash drawer. Paredez removed the cash drawer from the register and handed it over to Appellant. Chan ducked her head as Appellant swung the drawer over her head and then exited the Bistro. The cash drawer contained about $450 dollars. The police released surveillance footage to the public and subsequently received a tip that Appellant was the robber in the video. Appellant's former wife, after being shown the video by police, identified Appellant as the perpetrator.

Trial

At trial, Tang recounted the events of that evening, including the fact that Appellant “scans the bar area” with the firearm and pointed it at Tang. Tang's response to Appellant was to raise his hands to show Appellant he was not a threat. Paredez confirmed that Appellant had pointed the firearm at everyone in the restaurant after first gesturing the firearm at her. Swartz testified she initially did not see the firearm and only realized Appellant possessed a firearm when he pointed it at her. Angelo Puma, was a regular patron of the Bistro, and he saw Appellant “wave[ ] [the firearm] around the entire restaurant.”

Chan stated she “thought it was odd for somebody to walk in a restaurant wearing sunglasses.” Chan explained that she and Swartz initially believed Appellant was engaged in a prank but after he pointed the gun at Swartz, Chan “got really scared.” Chan became even more frightened when Appellant walked behind her and Swartz since “[she] couldn't see him[.]” She was unsure if Appellant was pointing the gun at Swartz again or at the back of Chan's head.

The trial court submitted three aggravated robbery charges to the jury: the aggravated robbery of Chan, Swartz, and Tang. The jury found Appellant guilty as charged and assessed punishment at five years confinement for the aggravated robbery of Chan, seven years confinement for the aggravated robbery of Swartz, and five years confinement for the aggravated robbery of Tang. The trial court sentenced Appellant in accordance with the jury's verdicts, to run concurrently.

DISCUSSION

In a single issue, Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support Appellant's convictions for aggravated robbery of Chan and Swartz. Appellant's brief is clear that he was only appealing the convictions of Chan (cause number 1329668D) and Swartz (cause number 1329666D) and requesting that we vacate those two convictions on the basis that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions of aggravated robbery upon the Bistro's patrons, that is, Chan and Swartz.

Given that the conviction in this appeal is trial cause number is 1374153R and the victim is Jeff Tang which is unchallenged by Appellant, we overrule pursuant to TEX.R.APP.P. 38.1.

CONCLUSION

Having overruled Appellant's sole issue, we affirm the conviction in cause number 1374153R.

Hughes, J., Not Participating

FOOTNOTES

1.   As this case was transferred from our sister court in Fort Worth, we decide it in accordance with the precedent of that court. TEX.R.APP.P. 41.3.

2.   This appeal, 08-15-00022-CR (cause no. 1374153R) is a companion case to 08-15-00023-CR (cause no. 1329668D) and 08-15-00024-CR (cause no. 1329666D). These cases were tried jointly. Jeff Tang is the named victim in cause number 1374153R (08-15-00022-CR), Amara Chan is the named victim in cause number 1329668D (08-15-00023-CR), and Cathy Swartz is the named victim in cause number 1329666D (08-15-00024-CR).

YVONNE T. RODRIGUEZ, Justice

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