Appeal from the 339th District Court of Harris County, Texas Cause No. 388,990.
Chief Justice J. Curtiss Brown and Associate Justices Sears and Ellis.
This is an appeal from the conviction of capital murder. Appellant, James Edward Randle, was found guilty by a jury and his punishment was automatically assessed by the trial court at confinement for life in the Texas Department of Corrections. We affirm.
In his first ground of error, appellant asserts that the trial court erred by sustaining the State's challenge for cause to venireperson Mrs. Charles Alice Perry. The reason alleged is the State failed in its burden to demonstrate that she was not qualified as a juror. In appellant's second ground of error, he claims the trial court erred in failing to fully develop the relevant attitude of venireperson Mrs. Charles Alice Perry prior to ruling upon the State's challenge for cause. In his third and last ground of error, appellant claims the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction for the offense of criminal murder because the elements of murder merged with the elements of aggravated robbery.
Appellant, a juvenile, was certified to stand trial as an adult and was convicted of murdering Arnold Pequeno. Pequeno was one of four employees of the Malibu Grand Prix amusement center stabbed to death by appellant and his two companions in the course of committing aggravated robbery.
In his first two grounds of error, appellant complains that the trial court erroneously sustained the State's challenge for cause to venireperson Mrs. Charles Alice Perry, and, the trial court erred in failing to fully develop the relevant attitude of the venireperson prior to that ruling. Both grounds of error are without merit.
During questioning by the State, the juror stated that she would be unable to reach a decision as to appellant's guilt or innocence if he were to exercise his right against self-incrimination or fail to present any defense. During appellant's attempts at rehabilitation, Perry stated that she could "follow the law" with regard to appellant's exercise of his Fifth Amendment rights, and would not hold appellant's silence against him. The trial court eventually intervened to resolve any conflict in Perry's responses:
THE COURT: Let me see if I can cut into this and see if you have some questions. Basically it comes down to this: If after -- assume that the State presents evidence. They then rest their evidence, and the Defense then states we rest also. We have no witnesses, and then I give you the charge on the law, and it states that -- directs you not to comment and not to consider the defendant's failure to testify. Can you then deliberate on this jury if you're selected on this jury and consider whether or not the defendant is guilty or not guilty based upon only the evidence that the State has brought forward? Can you follow that part of the law?
MR. HARDEWAY [defense counsel]: If this court tells you what the law is, can you follow it?
MRS. PERRY: Well, I couldn't make a decision. THE COURT: Then you could?