Appeal from the 278th District Court of Walker County
Attorneys for appellant, Hal Ridley, -on appeal only-, Huntsville, Tx., Roy E. Greenwood, -court appointed on appeal-, Austin, Tx.
Attorneys for State, B. N. "Tuck" Tucker, Jr., Special Prosecution Unit, Huntsville, Tx., Robert Huttash, State's Attorney, Austin, Tx.
En Banc. Campbell, Clinton, Miller, White
Appellant, Gilbert Urbano, Jr., was found guilty of the capital offense of murder for remuneration or the promise thereof. See Tex. Penal Code § 19.03(a)(3). At the punishment stage of appellant's trial, the jury answered affirmatively the special issues required by Article 37.071(b) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, and appellant was sentenced to death. Direct appeal to this Court was then automatic under Article 37.071(h). We will now reverse.
Appellant raises nine points of error, including one challenging the sufficiency of the evidence at his trial to prove beyond a reasonable doubt remuneration or the promise of remuneration. Because of our disposition of this evidentiary sufficiency point of error, we need not address appellant's other points of error.
Appellant argues there was no evidence at trial either that he received any tangible benefit in exchange for the murder in question or that any person or entity promised him any such benefit. The State contends, on the other hand, that it proved that appellant "killed with the expectation [of material benefit] required to make this a murder for remuneration."
We must first state the proper standard of appellate review. The due process of law clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that every state criminal conviction be supported by evidence that a rational factfinder could accept as sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 364, 25 L. Ed. 2d 368, 90 S. Ct. 1068 (1970); Coit v. State, 808 S.W.2d 473, 475 (Tex.Cr.App. 1991). As a reviewing court, therefore, we must view all the evidence adduced at trial in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict and determine whether rational jurors could have found the essential elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 61 L. Ed. 2d 560, 99 S. Ct. 2781 (1979). We do not act as a super-jury re-weighing the evidence; rather, we act only "as a final, due process safeguard ensuring . . . the rationality of the factfinder." Moreno v. State, 755 S.W.2d 866, 867 (Tex.Cr.App. 1988). In carrying out our task, we remain ...