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Williams v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

April 13, 2017


         On Appeal from the County Criminal Court at Law No. 1 Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2014817

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Brown and Jewell.



         Appellant Kij Williams challenges his conviction for misdemeanor driving while intoxicated ("DWI") on the grounds that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and the trial court reversibly erred by denying his motion to suppress the horizontal gaze nystagmus ("HGN") test results. We affirm.


         At approximately 1:00 a.m. on March 14, 2014, a valet at a Houston area bar/restaurant heard a noise, turned around, and saw a vehicle attempting to parallel park. The valet saw the vehicle hit the car in front and the car behind it; both these cars were damaged by the driver of the vehicle attempting to parallel park. Appellant was driving the vehicle and had a female passenger in the car with him. Houston Police Department ("HPD") Officer Kevin Hunt was working off-duty directing traffic flow outside the restaurant. Hunt approached appellant's vehicle and asked appellant for his driver's license and insurance. Appellant refused. According to the State, appellant asked Hunt, "Can't we just make this go away?" and offered Hunt $70. Hunt asked the valet to go inside and request assistance from other off-duty officers present at the bar.

         As Hunt waited by appellant's car for the other officers, appellant and his passenger became belligerent. Hunt repeatedly asked appellant to turn off the car and get out, but appellant refused. During Hunt's interactions with appellant, Hunt saw that appellant's eyes were glassy with dilated pupils; Hunt also smelled alcohol on appellant's breath and noticed that appellant's speech was slurred. Appellant told Hunt that he had had "a couple of beers." At appellant's trial, Hunt testified that, based on his observations and experience, he believed that appellant was intoxicated, most likely by drinking alcohol.

         HPD Lieutenant Mark Glentzer and another officer came outside at the valet's request. Glentzer saw Hunt speaking with appellant, who was outside his vehicle and leaning against it. As Glentzer approached, appellant re-entered his car. Glentzer noticed that the cars in front of and behind appellant's vehicle were damaged. Glentzer also smelled alcohol on appellant's breath, despite the fact that appellant appeared to be chewing gum during their interactions. He also asked appellant to step out of the vehicle, but appellant refused to get out of his car. Glentzer found appellant to be very slow in his movements and slow to respond to questions. Glentzer also noticed that appellant's speech was slurred and appellant did not seem to understand what the officers were telling him. Glentzer testified at appellant's trial that, based on his experience and training, he believed appellant was intoxicated and had lost the normal use of his mental and physical faculties on the night in question.

         Meanwhile, Hunt called the HPD DWI unit; it took approximately twenty to thirty minutes for the DWI officer to arrive. HPD Officer Joseph Little, with the department's DWI Task Force, arrived at the restaurant around 1:30 a.m. Appellant was still behind the wheel of his vehicle when Little arrived. Little noticed an odor of alcohol on appellant's breath, even with appellant's gum-chewing. Little also noticed that appellant had glassy eyes and slurred speech. Little asked appellant to step out of the car, but appellant refused and was uncooperative. Appellant asked repeatedly for a lawyer, and Little told him that he could not have one during a DWI investigation. Appellant asked for a blood test, but he refused to exit his vehicle. Instead, he demanded that the blood test be performed as he sat in his vehicle.

         Appellant and his passenger argued with Little for about ten minutes before the officers decided to forcibly remove appellant from his vehicle. It took the officers several minutes to remove appellant from his car, during which time appellant continued to demand his attorney.[1] Little performed the HGN standard field sobriety test on appellant, and appellant displayed six out of six clues of intoxication.

         Little transported appellant to the HPD "intox facility" to perform other field sobriety tests. When they arrived, Little demonstrated the walk-and-turn and the one-leg-stand tests. Appellant refused to perform both tests. However, appellant consented to a blood-alcohol test. Based on Little's observations of appellant that night, Little determined that appellant was intoxicated and had lost the normal use of his mental and physical faculties.[2]

         Appellant's blood was drawn at HPD's "central blood room" at around 3:30 a.m. The analyst who tested appellant's blood testified that appellant's blood-alcohol content was .130 grams of ethanol per 100 mL of blood, above the legal limit of .08.[3] Appellant was charged by information with DWI. A jury found appellant guilty, and the trial court sentenced him to 180 days' confinement, but suspended the sentence and placed appellant on community supervision for one year. The trial court certified appellant's right to appeal, and this appeal timely followed.


         In his first issue, appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction.

         Standard of Review. Reviewing courts apply a legal-sufficiency standard in determining whether the evidence is sufficient to support each element of a criminal offense that the State is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 318-19 (1979); see Temple v. State, 390 S.W.3d 341, 360 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013). Under this standard, we examine all the evidence adduced at trial in the light most favorable to the verdict to determine whether a jury was rationally justified in finding guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Temple, 390 S.W.3d at 360; Criff v. State, 438 S.W.3d 134, 136-37 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 2014, pet. ref'd). Our review of "all of the evidence" includes evidence that was ...

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