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Beltran v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

March 8, 2017

John BELTRAN, Appellant
The STATE of Texas, Appellee

         From the 399th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2012CR7747A Honorable Ray Olivarri, Judge Presiding.

          Sitting: Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice, Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice Irene Rios, Justice.



         Appellant John Beltran was charged with five counts of sexual assault of a child. The jury found Beltran guilty on all charges and assessed punishment at six years' confinement in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. On appeal, Beltran raises three issues: (1) the trial court's incorrect limiting instruction regarding extraneous offense testimony was reversible error, (2) the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions for multiple counts of sexual assault as alleged in the indictment, and (3) Beltran's Sixth Amendment right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him was violated when the trial court limited cross-examination of S.O. about theft cases that would have exposed her bias and motive to testify. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Because our inquiry is highly fact-intensive, we set forth a rather detailed account of the evidence presented during the trial.

         A. Police Officers

         1. Sergeant Daniel Gonzales

         On October 12, 2011, San Antonio Police Department Sergeant Daniel Gonzales responded to a call at a fast-food restaurant in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. The sheriff's office dispatch reported a young female was trying to "get away from her mother who was chasing her in another vehicle." Sergeant Gonzales approached S.O. who reported "she was trying to get away from her mother because her mother for the last couple of years had been basically prostituting her out to her mother's drug dealer in exchange for drugs." The dispatch officer notified Sergeant Gonzales that S.O. had an active warrant for theft charges; both S.O. and her mother were transported to the police department for further investigation.

         2. Detective Edward Sandoval

         S.O. led Detective Edward Sandoval, with the San Antonio Police Department Special Victims Unit, to the specific location and identified the house "where she said the incident happened." Detective Sandoval also prepared and presented S.O. with a six-photograph line-up. Detective Sandoval testified that S.O. originally said she recognized the individual in picture number six. As the officer was completing his paperwork, however, S.O. asked to view the pictures again. Detective Sandoval explained, "She came back and she pointed to Number 3 and said, 'That's the one that my mom used to take me to, ' and then she gave me the guy's name." S.O. further reported that his name was "Johnny." Upon further questioning, Detective Sandoval testified that S.O. said she "recognized" the individual identified as Number 6, but when she identified Number 3, "She said his name, Johnny, and she said, That's the one my mother used to take me to."

         3. Detective Robert Valadez

         San Antonio Police Detective Robert Valadez was the lead officer on the case. He explained that he did not send S.O. for a sexual assault examination because medical evidence can only be collected within three or four days of the assault. In this case, S.O. reported the last sexual encounter was approximately ninety-days prior to her outcry.

         B. Sally, S.O.'s Mother

         Sally, S.O.'s mother, acknowledged entering a plea of guilty to one count of trafficking of a child, S.O., on November 1, 2009, and for two counts of compelling prostitution to Beltran. Part of Sally's plea agreement was to testify against Beltran.

         Sally testified that her cocaine addiction began in 1995. In 2008 or 2009, fifteen-year-old S.O. moved in with her mother. Sally further testified that she made an agreement with Beltran for her (Sally) to take S.O. to Beltran's house to have sexual intercourse with him in exchange for cocaine. She further acknowledged taking S.O. to Beltran's house two or three times a week; this number was called into question during cross-examination. This agreement between Sally and Beltran continued until S.O. turned eighteen and moved out of her mother's house.

         During cross-examination, Sally acknowledged her drug use limited her ability to remember much of what had transpired. She wavered on exactly when S.O. moved back into her house or when S.O. moved out. Sally acknowledged stealing clothes and taking them to Beltran's home and also admitted stealing camera batteries from a store and giving them to Beltran.

         C. S.O.

         S.O. testified that Sally took her to Beltran's house, she went to the door by herself, and knocked. S.O. then described how Beltran sexually assaulted her. S.O. testified this occurred several times between the ages of fifteen and eighteen years. S.O. wavered on the exact number of times Beltran assaulted her, but consistently testified that it happened numerous times. S.O. acknowledged she was unable to identify Beltran in the first ...

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