Appeal from the 338th District Court Harris County, Texas,
Trial Court Case No. 1430828
consists of Justices Bland, Massengale, and Lloyd.
State charged William Porter with murder. Porter pleaded not
guilty, and a jury returned a verdict of guilty and assessed
his punishment at 33 years' confinement. On appeal,
Porter contends that the trial court erred in admitting
testimony from Porter's attorney about that
attorney's removal and secretion of a bullet from the
crime scene because it constitutes a privileged communication
under the attorney-client privilege. We conclude that the
attorney's conduct does not fall within the
attorney-client relationship and thus does not fall within
the privilege. We therefore affirm.
Saturday evening in August 1986, Porter and his girlfriend,
Anita Fries, began using drugs at Porter's home.
Porter was a drug dealer for the neighborhood. He was upset
that several people, including the decedent, Gerald Oncale,
owed money to him. When Porter learned that Oncale was
nearby, Porter left the house and met Oncale around the
corner. At that meeting, Oncale agreed to cash a check at a
nearby convenience store to pay Porter the money that Oncale
owed to him. Oncale cashed the check and paid Porter some of
the money he owed. Oncale told Porter he had just purchased
an "eight-ball" of cocaine and offered to share the
drugs with Porter.
invited Oncale to join him and Fries for the evening. The
three returned to Porter's home. Oncale pulled his truck
into the driveway behind Porter's vehicle. They went
inside Porter's house and began using the drugs.
conversation turned to Oncale's source for his drug
supply. Oncale revealed that he had obtained the drugs from
the same individual that Porter used for his supply. Porter
became angry with Oncale, who was seated on the couch in the
living room. The argument became heated, and Porter, standing
on the other side of the coffee table across from Oncale,
drew his gun. Oncale, who was seated on the couch, began to
stand up. Porter ordered Oncale to sit back down. Porter then
shot Oncale, who fell backward on the couch, slid onto the
floor, and died.
panicked and ran to Porter's mother's house across
the street. She told Porter's mother, Inga, what had
happened. Inga instructed Fries to stay there while she went
across the street to Porter's house. Fries watched as
Porter dragged Oncale's body outside onto the front porch
and went back inside. Porter retrieved a bucket of water and
washed some of the blood off of the porch. Porter gathered
the drugs in the house and placed them in a bag. He tied the
bag with a length of fishing line, walked to a storm drain in
the street nearby, and tied the bag to the grate of the storm
drain so that the bag of drugs was hanging just below it.
and Porter then staged the house to appear as if a robbery
had occurred. Inga told Fries that they were going to call
the police and told Fries not to reveal what had happened to
the police. Inga threatened that something bad would happen
to Fries and her children if Fries did not comply.
J. Denholm of the Harris County Sheriff's Office arrived
at the scene early that morning. Fries was standing outside
Porter's house, and she confirmed that they had reported
the shooting. As Denholm entered the house, he noticed that
the front door had been splintered, but the deadbolt was
undamaged. Oncale's body was on the floor just inside the
door. Porter was kneeling over the body. Denholm observed
that Oncale had been shot in the chest.
found no signs of struggle inside the house. At that time,
Fries told Denholm that she was asleep when the shooting
occurred and did not know what had happened. Porter told
Denholm that he shot Oncale about 15 minutes before Denholm
arrived, in self-defense, after he found Oncale kicking in
the front door. Porter said that he knew Oncale but that they
had not been getting along, and that Oncale should not have
been at Porter's home.
placed Porter in his patrol car and went back into the house
to continue his investigation. Denholm found the proffered
explanation of the circumstances suspicious for several
reasons: Oncale had no mask and was not armed; Oncale's
truck was in the driveway; Fries and Porter stated that they
had just been in bed, yet they were fully dressed; there were
marks and blood smears on the front porch, indicating that
Oncale's body had been dragged and that someone had tried
to wipe up some of the blood; and there was an unexplained
bloodstain on the rug in the living room. Further, the
reported timing of the incident was not consistent with the
appearance of the body or of pooled blood nearby. The
location of the bullet's entry and exit wounds also
showed that the bullet had traveled downward through
Oncale's body, which was not consistent with Porter's
explanation of the events.
returned to the patrol car to check on Porter. Porter
volunteered that he had never had to shoot anyone, and that
after shooting Oncale, Porter had tried to resuscitate him
and had carried Oncale outside. He also added that he had
tried to drive Oncale to the hospital, but realized that
Oncale's truck had blocked him ...