Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
appeal from the 332nd District Court of Hidalgo County,
Justices Contreras, Benavides, and Longoria
L. LONGORIA Justice
Francisco Javier Leal was convicted of robbery, see
Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 29.02 (West, Westlaw through 2015
R.S.), and aggravated assault. See id. § 22.02
(West, Westlaw through 2015 R.S.). On appeal, Leal asserts
that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the
jury's verdict on the offense of aggravated assault
because the jury specifically found that he did not use a
deadly weapon. We affirm.
Arambula testified that on March 31, 2010, she was on her way
to McAllen High School. Because she lacked a parking permit,
she parked on a public street across from the school
building. Upon exiting her vehicle, Leal confronted her and
demanded that she give him her keys. A struggle over the keys
ensued, in which Arambula's hand was cut. Her finger was
so swollen from the altercation that the ring she was wearing
would later have to be cut off. While Leal and Arambula were
grappling for control of the keys, Ernestina Chapa drove by
and noticed the two engaging each other. Chapa testified that
she began honking her horn because Arambula appeared very
Chapa began honking, Leal let go of Arambula and headed
straight for Chapa. According to Chapa, Leal opened her
driver-side door and tried to force her from the vehicle.
Because she was pregnant at the time, Leal had difficulty
removing her from the vehicle. Regardless, he continued to
pull at her shirt and her hair, and then he pulled out a
knife. Chapa testified that the knife blade was approximately
four inches long.
the tussle with Chapa, Erick Gonzalez, another student of
McAllen High School and a member of the school's ROTC
program, also passed by. Gonzalez testified that he commanded
Leal to leave Chapa alone. Leal lunged at Gonzalez with the
knife still in his hand but then immediately retreated and
rode away on his bike. Leal was taken into custody more than
three years later by federal authorities upon crossing back
into the United States from Mexico.
was charged by indictment with two counts of aggravated
robbery and one count of robbery. More specifically, the
State alleged that Leal committed aggravated robbery against
Gonzalez and Chapa (counts one and two, respectively). The
State also alleged that Leal committed robbery against
Arambula, causing bodily injury (count three). The jury found
Leal not guilty on count one, guilty of the lesser included
offense of aggravated assault on count two, and guilty of the
offense of robbery on count three. However, special issue
number one in the jury charge asked about Leal's use of a
deadly weapon; the jury found that he did not use a deadly
weapon. The jury sentenced Leal to ten years'
imprisonment for aggravated assault and eight years'
imprisonment for robbery, both sentences to run concurrently.
This appeal followed.
sole issue on appeal, Leal argues that the evidence is
legally insufficient to support his conviction for the
lesser-included offense of aggravated assault.
Standard of Review and Applicable Law
order to determine if the evidence is legally sufficient in a
criminal case, the appellate court reviews all of the
evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and
determines whether any rational trier of fact could have
found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable
doubt. See Brooks v. State, 323 S.W.3d 893, 905
(Tex. Crim. App. 2010) (plurality op.) (citing Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979)). We give great
deference to the trier of fact and assume the factfinder
resolved all conflicts in the evidence in favor of the
verdict. Laster v. State, 275 S.W.3d 512, 517 (Tex.
Crim. App. 2009). We will uphold the verdict unless the
factfinder "must have had reasonable doubt as to any
essential element." Laster, 275 S.W.3d at 517.
is measured by the elements of the offense as defined by a
hypothetically correct jury charge. Malik v. State,
953 S.W.2d 234, 240 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997). Such a charge in
this case would state that a person commits the offense of
assault if the person intentionally or knowingly threatens
another with imminent bodily injury; or if the person
intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury
to another. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. §
22.01(a)(1), (2) (West, Westlaw through 2015 R.S.).
Furthermore, it would state that a person commits ...