Appeal from the 441st District Court Midland County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. CR41986
consists of: Wright, C.J., Willson, J., and Bailey, J.
M. BAILEY, JUSTICE
jury convicted Arron Joshua Castillo of murder and assessed
his punishment at confinement for fifty years in the
Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal
Justice. Appellant challenges his conviction in five issues
on appeal. Appellant's first three issues concern the
manner in which the trial court instructed the jury about the
accomplice witness rule as it pertained to Deseare
Carroll. See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann.
art. 38.14 (West 2005). In his fourth issue, Appellant
contends that the non-accomplice evidence was insufficient to
connect Appellant to the offense. In his fifth issue,
Appellant asserts that the trial court abused its discretion
in admitting hearsay evidence. We affirm.
West, the victim in this case, was the mother of
Appellant's two young children, T.W. and I.W. In July
2013, Appellant was living in Lubbock with his girlfriend,
Sandy Carroll. West was living in Midland with T.W. and
I.W. On the evening of July 9, Appellant, Sandy, and
Appellant's two other children arrived in Midland because
Appellant had a child support hearing on the morning of July
10 concerning his financial support of T.W. and I.W.
Appellant and West attended the hearing at 8:30 a.m. At the
hearing, the trial court ordered Appellant to pay monthly
child support and awarded Appellant visitation rights.
took T.W. and I.W. with him from the hearing to his
parents' home in Midland but later returned I.W. to West
because he was fussy. That night, at 11:00 p.m., West walked
from her apartment to a nearby convenience store. Cell phone
records indicated that she received a call from a restricted
number at 11:04 p.m. At 11:09 p.m., West placed a phone call
to her mother and told her that she was on her way to meet
Appellant because Appellant was going to give her some money.
At 11:51 p.m., West received a second call from a restricted
11:30 p.m., Carmen and Thomas Ezell Jr. returned home to the
Midland Village Apartments. Carmen could not park in her
usual spot because it was occupied by a tan or beige Tahoe
that was backed into the parking space. The Ezells saw what
appeared to be two Black males sitting in the vehicle. Thomas
testified that the driver had a slender build and that the
passenger had a heavy build. After fifteen to twenty minutes,
the Ezells heard what Carmen believed to be two gunshots. The
Ezells saw a third Black male walk toward the Tahoe from the
direction in which the Ezells heard the noise.
described the third individual as being approximately six
feet tall with a heavy build and frizzy hair. He wore a shirt
with diagonal stripes. He had his hand on his leg and
appeared to be holding something in his pocket. The third
individual got into the backseat of the Tahoe. The Tahoe
began to drive away but stopped at the corner. The third
individual exited the vehicle, walked back to where he came
from, leaned against a tree, looked around, and then returned
to the vehicle and reentered it. The Tahoe then drove away.
Once the Tahoe was gone, the Ezells walked outside to go
check on an elderly neighbor. Shortly after midnight on July
11, the Ezells found West's body in a field next to the
apartments, whereupon they called 9-1-1.
testified that, at around 10:00 p.m. on July 10, she and her
girlfriend went to Appellant's parents'
house to visit Appellant. After approximately
thirty minutes, Carroll and Appellant used Carroll's
orange Avalanche to drive Carroll's girlfriend home. They
then picked up Appellant's friend, Carlos Martinez.
Martinez had a gun that was wrapped in a white T-shirt that
he brought with him.
picking up Martinez, Appellant asked Carroll to drive to a
convenience store. When they arrived, Appellant asked Carroll
for money. Appellant gave Carroll's money to Martinez and
instructed him to "go get it." Martinez entered the
convenience store and returned a short time later with a
receipt for the purchase of prepaid phone minutes. Appellant
loaded the minutes onto a blue phone. Carroll had never seen
Appellant use this phone before because Appellant usually
used an iPhone. Carroll, Martinez, and Appellant then
returned to Appellant's house.
approximately 11:00 p.m., Appellant asked Carroll to give him
a ride to West's apartment. Appellant told Carroll that
he wanted to give West some money for their children. Carroll
did not want to take her vehicle, so Appellant offered his
grandmother's SUV, which Carroll believed to be a Yukon.
Carroll drove the SUV, with Appellant and Martinez riding
along. Appellant was not sure exactly where West lived, so he
instructed Carroll to park at the Midland Village Apartments.
Carroll backed into a parking spot at the apartment complex.
three of them got out of the vehicle and began to walk around
and look for West. They could not find her, so they returned
to the SUV. Appellant called West, using the blue phone, and
asked her to come meet him. At this time, Appellant was
wearing black Jordan tennis shoes, a colorful tank top that
had a puzzle-piece design, and black shorts.
still on the phone, Appellant left to go meet West. Carroll
and Martinez followed Appellant until he located West.
Carroll and Martinez then returned to the SUV. Carroll waited
in the driver's seat, and Martinez waited in the front
passenger seat. After approximately thirty minutes, Carroll
heard a gunshot, a pause, then four more gunshots.
panicked and began to drive away, but Martinez told her not
to leave yet. Carroll described Martinez's reaction as
"calm." Appellant returned to the SUV, got into the
backseat, and threw the gun down. Appellant then exclaimed,
"F--k, I dropped that phone." Carroll told him to
go back and get it. Appellant left to go look for the phone.
again began to drive away. Again, Martinez told her to wait.
She parked in a different parking spot and waited for an
additional five minutes. When Appellant did not reappear,
Carroll left without him. Martinez instructed Carroll to
drive to his apartment so that he could drop off the gun. The
pair then returned to Appellant's house, where they found
Appellant sitting on the porch with Sandy. Appellant was no
longer wearing a shirt. Carroll testified that Appellant
confessed to Carroll and Martinez that he shot West once,
began to walk away, but then returned and shot her four more
asked Carroll for a ride home. Before they left, Appellant
gave Carroll his Jordan shoes and the blue prepaid phone and
asked her to get rid of them. Martinez directed Carroll to a
dumpster and attempted to rip the shoes. Carroll placed the
shoes and the phone in the dumpster and covered them with a
piece of sheetrock. She then took Martinez home and returned
to her girlfriend's apartment at 1:30 a.m.
following morning, Carroll turned herself in to the police.
She later pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence in
connection with the murder. Carroll denied any knowledge of
Appellant's plans to murder West when she drove Appellant
to the area of West's apartment complex.
testified that, at around 10:00 or 10:30 p.m. on July 10,
Carroll and Appellant picked him up at his apartment in an
orange Avalanche. Appellant asked Martinez to bring his
revolver. The three of them drove to Appellant's house
and changed vehicles, getting into a green SUV. They then
drove to the convenience store, where Martinez purchased the
prepaid phone minutes. From there, they went to an apartment
complex to meet West. Appellant contacted West and told her
that he wanted to give her some money. Martinez testified
that he waited in the SUV with Carroll while Appellant met
with West. After forty to sixty minutes, Martinez heard a
gunshot, followed by a pause, and then heard two or three
testified that Carroll began to panic and that, in response,
he told her to wait for Appellant. Appellant jumped into the
backseat of the SUV, but then got out to go look for his
phone. Carroll parked in a different parking spot and waited
an additional three or four minutes before eventually giving
up and returning to Appellant's house. At Appellant's
house, Appellant confessed to Martinez that he had shot West
as she was walking away from him.
asked Martinez to get rid of the gun. He asked Carroll to get
rid of "the other stuff." Carroll then gave
Martinez a ride home, but they took a detour to get rid of
the gun and the other evidence. Martinez testified that, when
Appellant committed the murder, Appellant was wearing an
orange and blue muscle shirt with tiger stripes and
solid-colored shorts. Martinez was wearing a pair of baby
blue Jordan tennis shoes. Martinez ...