Criminal Cases decided by the 5th Court of Appeals on July 13, 2017

The 5th Court of Appeals decided TAMMI L. DONNELL, Appellant v. THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee, on July 13, 2017.

The Court issued a memorandum opinion affirming Appellant’s conviction for Aggravated Assault..

The case was on appeal from the 195th Judicial District Court in Dallas County, Texas, as Trial Court Cause No. F14-20425-N. From the appellate court:

In her first issue, appellant argues the evidence was insufficient to support one of the elements of the charged offense, specifically the finding that appellant and Curren were members of the same household at the time of the commission of the offense. She alleges the evidence shows that three days before the assault, Curren—the sole owner of the house—had ordered her to vacate the premises such that from that point forward, appellant was no longer a member of Curren’s household.

A person commits aggravated assault when that person, with the requisite mental intent, causes serious bodily injury or uses a deadly weapon. TEX. PENAL CODE ANN. §§ 22.01(a)(1), 22.02 (a)(1), (2) (West 2016). The offense is a first degree felony when the defendant uses the deadly weapon during the commission of the assault and causes serious bodily injury to a person who is a member of the defendant’s household as defined by the family code. See id. § 22.02(b)(1); TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 71.005 (West 2016). The family code defines “household” as a unit composed of persons living together in the same dwelling, without regard to whether they are related to each other. FAM. § 71.005.
The record shows that appellant lived with Curren under a six month lease agreement from October 2013 through April 2014 and that they agreed to extend the lease agreement through May 2014. A few days before the expiration of the extension of the lease agreement, on May 27, 2014, Curren and his friend asked appellant if she had found another place to live or needed help moving out. Although it is clear from Curren’s testimony that he expected appellant to move out, Curren did not testify he considered the extension of the lease term to have expired on that day. Likewise, despite Curren’s intentions or request to appellant that she vacate, the evidence supports the conclusion that she continued living in his house through the time of the attack.

A Dallas County Sheriff’s Department detective collected the physical evidence in this case and testified there was blood inside Curren’s car in his garage. Curren testified the blood did not belong to him and that he had not gone in the garage during or after the assault. The record also contains photographs of Curren’s car that showed it was full of belongings that Curren testified did not belong to him and were not in his car when he drove to his house on May 30, 2014. Among those belongings was a purse with blood on the outside of it and containing a wallet with appellant’s social security card and driver’s license. From this evidence, a reasonable jury could find appellant did not move her belongings out of Curren’s house until after her assault of him.

A DeSoto police detective who interviewed appellant testified she told him the deadline for her to move out of Curren’s house was May 31, 2014. From the foregoing evidence, a jury could reasonably find beyond a reasonable doubt that both Curren and appellant understood themselves to be members of the same household on the date of the assault. See Jackson, 443 U.S. at 318–19. We overrule appellant’s first issue.


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Criminal Cases decided by the 5th Court of Appeals on July 13, 2017 – The Dallas Lawyer