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Johnson v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District, Houston

January 28, 2014

ASHTIN LAWATHA JOHNSON, Appellant
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

Page 894

On Appeal from the 232nd District Court, Harris County, Texas. Trial Court Cause No. 1327274.

For APPELLANT: Celeste Carter Blackburn, HOUSTON, TX.

For STATE: Carly Dessauer, HOUSTON, TX.

OPINION

Page 895

J. Brett Busby, Justice.

Appellant Ashtin Johnson was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole. Appellant now appeals his conviction, contending in a single issue that the evidence is legally insufficient to support his conviction. We disagree and affirm the trial court's judgment.

BACKGROUND

Late on the night of October 16, 2011, appellant left his home with two men, Martez Levy and a man known as " Tray," and two women, Ceymone Anthony and Beonkay Kesee. They drove down Bissonnet Street to an area where appellant said there was a lot of prostitution, and Anthony and Kesee got out of the vehicle at an apartment complex. Ernesto Vasquez and Ben Hernandez were driving by some condominiums near Bissonnet Street so Vasquez could solicit a prostitute, and they encountered Anthony and Kesee. The women offered Vasquez sex in exchange for thirty dollars if he came to their apartment. They instructed him to pull into the parking lot of the condominiums and follow them.

While Vasquez parked, Kesee contacted Levy. Levy told appellant to come with him, and he and appellant walked down a breezeway between the condominiums towards the women. Appellant said Tray went to cover the back as he " was supposed to do." Vasquez met the women and started walking with them towards the apartments. Hernandez waited by the car.

Appellant and Levy each grabbed one of Vasquez's arms. Anthony and Kesee laughed as Levy pulled out a gun and struck Vasquez in the face. Levy yelled to appellant to get Hernandez, and appellant attempted to, but decided not to pursue him. Levy continued to strike Vasquez but he did not fall, so appellant grabbed him to wrestle him to the ground. Levy told appellant to check Vasquez's pockets. Vasquez reached into his pockets and gave appellant two ten dollar bills. Anthony and Kesee both insisted that Vasquez had more money, so appellant searched Vasquez's other pockets and took his wallet. When appellant looked through it, he only found " fake Mexican" money in it. Levy struck Vasquez again with the gun while he was on the ground and shot him in the head. Appellant left the scene with Levy and Tray. Anthony and Kesee kept calling Levy to pick them up. Appellant later gave Levy the wallet he had taken from Vasquez, and Levy told him that he would destroy it.

Appellant gave a statement to police admitting his presence at the time of the offense, but claimed that he did not know what was happening until after Vasquez was shot. Appellant claimed he did not know Levy was going to rob the men until he struck Vasquez with the gun and told appellant to go through his pockets. Appellant

Page 896

stated he felt threatened by Levy and had no choice but to comply with his orders. Appellant admitted Levy had been bragging that he had a .45 but appellant contended he did ...


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