JASON T. PEGUES, Appellant
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee
Appeal from the 434th District Court Fort Bend County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 94-DCR-026185
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Brown and
Pegues was convicted of aggravated sexual assault in 1995 and
sentenced to 50 years' confinement. Twenty years later,
he moved for postconviction DNA testing of physical evidence
held by the State. The trial court denied his pro se motion.
Pegues appeals. The thrust of his argument is that the trial
court erred by giving undue weight to his earlier admissions
of guilt in analyzing whether he met his burden to obtain
postconviction DNA testing. We conclude that the trial court
erred by denying his motion and therefore reverse the trial
is convicted of sexual assault
years ago, a teenager forced his way into a house where a
16-year old girl, Mary,  was home alone. He threatened her with
a knife and sexually assaulted her before fleeing through the
backdoor of the house. During the police investigation,
Pegues, a 16-year-old who lived in the neighborhood, gave a
statement confessing to the offense. Pegues later moved to
suppress his confession, but his motion was denied. His
confession was admitted as evidence against him at trial.
was other evidence of guilt as well. Mary identified Pegues
at trial as her attacker. She testified that she used his
knife to cut his leg during the assault. There was
photographic and testimonial evidence that Pegues had a
corresponding wound on his leg. The jury was told that semen
had been detected during a sexual-assault exam conducted the
same day as the assault but that DNA tests had been
"inconclusive." The sexual-assault kit was admitted
into evidence. The jury convicted Pegues of aggravated sexual
assault, without Pegues testifying.
the punishment phase of the trial, evidence of two statements
of confession by Pegues were presented. First, Pegues
admitted on cross-examination that he sexually assaulted
Mary. Second, a clinical psychologist, Dr. Michael Cox, who
testified that Pegues was a good candidate for rehabilitation
through therapy, testified that Pegues had admitted to him
that he sexually assaulted Mary. Cox's report referenced
the same admission of guilt. The jury assessed punishment at
50 years' confinement.
direct appeal, Pegues argued that the trial court erred by
denying his motion to suppress his pretrial confession.
See Pegues v. State, 964 S.W.2d 678 (Tex.
App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1997, pet. ref'd). Relying on
what was known as the DeGarmo waiver doctrine, we
held that Pegues waived any error with regard to the trial
court's ruling on his motion to suppress because he
admitted guilt during the punishment phase of his trial.
See id. at 679-80 (relying on DeGarmo v.
State, 691 S.W.2d 657 (Tex. Crim. App. 1985),
overruled by Jacobson v. State, 398 S.W.3d 195 (Tex.
Crim. App. 2013)).
years later, Pegues moves for DNA testing
2016, Pegues filed a pro se motion, under Article 64 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure, seeking to have physical evidence
from his trial subjected to additional DNA forensic
testing. In evaluating Pegues's motion, the
trial court considered various affidavits from those involved
in the handling and maintenance of the evidence during and
after Pegues's conviction. One affidavit was from
Courtney Head, a "criminalist
specialist/supervisor" at the Forensic Analysis Division
of the Houston Forensic Science Center. Head testified that
the State is in possession of physical evidence with the same
tracking number as the one assigned to Mary's
sexual-assault kit. The physical evidence includes a plastic
bag containing a piece of gauze with a "reddish brown
stain" in the middle and a tube containing another piece
of gauze, as well as some documents. According to Head, the
testability of the physical evidence is unknown but
"newer testing techniques may be available that provide
more accurate results than previous testing . . . ." The
trial court denied Pegues's motion for postconviction DNA
trial court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Regarding the physical evidence, the court found that the
original DNA testing had been inconclusive, Pegues did not
complain during his sexual-assault trial about the
presentation of that evidence, Pegues was seeking
postconviction DNA testing of the physical evidence, and the
State has physical evidence in its possession but does not
know whether it contains biological material capable of
producing new DNA test results.
trial court also found that there was ample evidence of
guilt, including Pegues's pretrial confession,
Pegues's admission of guilt during the punishment phase
of trial, Dr. Cox's testimony that Pegues had admitted
guilt, Mary's identification of Pegues as her attacker,
Mary's testimony about the stab wound to Pegues's
leg, and photographic and testimonial evidence that Pegues
had a corresponding wound on his leg. The trial court found
the evidence of a corresponding leg wound to be particularly
determinative in its analysis of Pegues's motion.
trial court ruled that Pegues "failed to establish by a
preponderance of evidence that he would not have been
convicted if exculpatory results had been obtained through
DNA testing." According to the trial court, a reasonable
jury could have convicted Pegues on the evidence described
above, even without his confession, irrespective of DNA test
results. Because the "testing or retesting of other
items would still not explain away defendant being stabbed in
the leg, " DNA test results would not qualify as
"exculpatory results" under the trial court's
analysis. See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art.
64.03(a)(2)(A) (permitting postconviction DNA testing only
if, among other requirements, "the convicted person
establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that . . . the
person would not have been convicted if exculpatory results
had been obtained through DNA testing"). In other words,
according to the trial court, the significant amount of
evidence of guilt would outweigh any benefit to Pegues that
might result from a DNA test result that excludes him as the
source of the DNA.
of Motion for Article 64 ...