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Chatman v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler

April 19, 2017

CAMERON CHATMAN, APPELLANT
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, APPELLEE

         Appeal from the 3rd District Court of Houston County, Texas (Tr. Ct. No. 15CR-092)

          Panel consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Greg Neeley Justice

         Cameron Chatman appeals his conviction for felony assault involving family violence. In his sole issue, Appellant claims the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. We affirm.

         Background

         Appellant was charged by indictment with felony assault involving family violence against Norris Jean McKnight on March 24, 2015 in Houston County, Texas. The indictment alleged that Appellant intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly struck McKnight with his fist causing bodily injury. Appellant pleaded "not guilty" and the matter proceeded to a jury trial.

         At trial, the evidence showed that on the evening in question, McKnight called 9-1-1 and reported that Appellant struck her in the mouth causing her teeth to be knocked out. The 9-1-1 call was played for the jury. McKnight told two City of Crockett Police Officers, Johnny Romo and Austin Roberts, that Appellant struck her in the mouth with his fist. Officer Romo took photographs of her injuries. Both officers testified they saw swelling on McKnight's lip and observed her missing tooth. McKnight gave the officers a written statement, which was admitted into evidence. The photos of McKnight's injuries were also published to the jury.

         McKnight testified that she was engaged in an on and off relationship with Appellant, and that they share a daughter. McKnight testified that she was the aggressor on the night of the offense, and that she jumped on Appellant's back because he took her telephone. She stated that Appellant slung her off his back, which caused her to hit the wall and knocked out her tooth. She stated that her tooth was already rotten and loose before the incident. When confronted with her prior statements that Appellant struck her and knocked her tooth out, McKnight stated that she lied because she was angry with Appellant for cheating on her. She denied writing a portion of the written statement, but acknowledged that it was her signature on the statement. She denied reading the statement before she signed it.

         Teneisha Simon, McKnight's sister, testified that McKnight was at her apartment on the evening of March 24, 2015. During the night, Simon awoke to hear McKnight crying. When Simon went to investigate, she found McKnight crying and holding her tooth. Simon asked Appellant what happened. Appellant told Simon that he discovered McKnight had been texting another man. He believed the man had been with McKnight earlier in the evening and had smoked marijuana around McKnight and Appellant's daughter. Simon testified that Appellant admitted pushing McKnight down and hitting her in the mouth, which knocked out her tooth. She testified that McKnight was the victim in Appellant's previous assault case. Simon explained that she refused to give a written statement to the police because she did not want to get involved and because of the on and off nature of McKnight's relationship with Appellant.

         Officer Roberts testified that when he went to Appellant's home to place him under arrest, Appellant's mother gave him permission to enter the home to look for Appellant. Roberts found Appellant standing with his arms crossed in the dark laundry room with the door closed. Officer Roberts arrested Appellant and read Appellant his rights. When Roberts asked Appellant about the assault, he denied being at Simon's apartment that evening. Officer Romo later interviewed Appellant at the jail, and Appellant maintains he had not been at the apartment that evening.

         During his testimony, Appellant described a version of events similar to that testified to by McKnight. He stated that McKnight accused him of being unfaithful, and he grabbed her telephone to look through it. Appellant testified that McKnight jumped on his back, and he slung her off of him causing her to fall to the ground. He claimed that he immediately left and did not know McKnight was injured until the next day. He denied intentionally harming McKnight or striking her in the face with his fist. He testified that he was merely defending himself from her attack. Appellant further stated that Simon was lying about his statements to her on the evening of the offense. He also admitted lying to officers about being at Simon's home with McKnight earlier in the evening, but explained that he did so because he mistrusted the police.

         The jury ultimately found Appellant guilty of felony assault involving family violence. The trial court sentenced Appellant to imprisonment for ten years. This appeal followed.

         Evidentiary Sufficiency

         In his sole issue, Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction for felony assault involving family violence. Specifically, Appellant argues that no rational jury could have found proof of all the ...


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