Appeal from the 183rd District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 1465955
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Brown and
Howard and her two friends stole merchandise from a
department store, fled in a getaway car, and led the police
on a high-speed chase, which came to an abrupt end when they
ran a red light and crashed into a vehicle passing through
the intersection, killing the driver, Rosalba Quezada. Howard
was indicted for felony murder. She was convicted and
sentenced to 35 years' confinement and fined $10, 000. In
two issues, Howard contends that the trial court erred by (1)
instructing the jury to find her guilty of felony
murder upon a predicate finding that her friends caused
Quezada's death while acting in furtherance of a
misdemeanor conspiracy and (2) denying her motion to
suppress a videotape of a statement she made to an officer
while at the hospital in police custody. We affirm.
undisputed at trial that Howard and her friend, Racquel
Gonzalez, agreed to steal polo shirts from a department
store. They recruited another friend, Shiquinta Franklin, to
help them steal the shirts by driving Howard's vehicle as
the getaway car.
picked up Gonzalez and Franklin, and they drove to the
department store. Howard and Gonzalez entered the store while
Franklin waited in the driver's seat of the car. Howard
and Gonzalez proceeded to grab sixteen shirts off a clothing
and run out of the store, setting off the theft-prevention
sensors. They jumped into the getaway car and told Franklin
to go. Franklin sped out of the parking lot, and, almost
immediately, the police began to pursue them.
attempt to evade arrest, they led the police on a dangerous,
high-speed chase on and off the highway and through
residential areas, during which they ran stop signs, reached
speeds of over 100 miles per hour, and passed other vehicles
on the inside shoulder.
eventually came to a red light at an intersection on the
feeder road. Gonzalez testified that she told Franklin to
stop the car but that Howard told Franklin to "keep
going" because she "had too much to lose."
Franklin likewise testified that Howard told her to "go,
go, go" through the red light. Franklin ran the red
light at over sixty miles per hour and crashed into another
vehicle passing through the intersection, killing the
vehicle's driver, Rosalba Quezada, and injuring her three
children, one seriously.
attempted to flee the accident scene on foot but was
apprehended by the police and taken to the hospital. At the
hospital, she was questioned by Officer R. Klementich. Howard
admitted that she, Gonzalez, and Franklin had conspired to
steal the shirts and then tried to evade arrest when the
police began to pursue them.
was indicted for felony murder, tried, and convicted. She
first issue, Howard contends that the trial court instructed
the jury to convict under an erroneous theory of liability.
The charge's second application paragraph instructed the
jury to find Howard guilty of felony murder upon a predicate
finding that Franklin caused Quezada's death while acting
in furtherance of a conspiracy with Howard to commit state
jail felony theft. Howard argues that a conviction for felony
murder cannot be based on a conspiracy to commit state jail
felony theft because such a conspiracy is not itself a felony
but rather a misdemeanor. The State responds that a
conviction for felony murder can be based on a conspiracy to
commit a state jail felony under Section 7.02(b) of the Penal
Code, which establishes a conspiracy theory of party
liability. According to the State, under this statute, Howard
may be convicted for Franklin's felony murder of Quezada
because Franklin committed the felony murder while driving
the getaway car in furtherance of her and Howard's
conspiracy to commit felony theft.
Applicable law and standard of review
the Code of Criminal Procedure, the trial court must
"deliver to the jury . . . a written charge distinctly
setting forth the law applicable to the case . . . ."
Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 36.14. "The purpose of the
jury charge is to inform the jury of the applicable law and
guide them in its application to the case . . . ."
Hutch v. State, 922 S.W.2d 166, 170 (Tex. Crim. App.
1996). In reviewing a jury-charge issue, we determine whether
error exists and, if so, whether sufficient harm resulted
from the error to compel reversal. Ngo v. State, 175
S.W.3d 738, 743 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005); Ryser v.
State, 453 S.W.3d 17, 27 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.]
2014, pet. ref'd).
B.The charge correctly applied the