Appeal from the 351st District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 1404917
consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Donovan and
Brittini Kressin challenges her conviction for intoxication
manslaughter on the sole ground that the trial court erred in
denying her motion to suppress evidence of the first of two
blood draws taken after a fatal freeway accident. Because the
record evidence shows the challenged blood draw was taken
pursuant to a valid warrant, we conclude the trial court did
not abuse its discretion in refusing to suppress the
after midnight appellant drove her car onto an exit ramp to
the Katy Freeway. She hit another car while traveling the
wrong direction. After striking the car, appellant continued
to drive the wrong way on the freeway about another 1300 to
1400 feet before the car came to a stop. Witnesses saw sparks
coming from appellant's car due to damage caused by the
accident. One witness reported seeing appellant, after the
accident, sitting in the car in the middle of the freeway.
Appellant's car was pointing the wrong direction and she
was trying to move the car. Two witnesses stopped, pulled
appellant out of her car, and placed her in one of their cars
for appellant's safety. The passenger in the back seat of
the car appellant hit suffered severe internal injuries from
the crash and died shortly after the accident. The other
passengers were injured but did not go to the hospital.
after appellant was pulled from her car, German Arias, who
was riding a motorcycle the right direction on the freeway,
did not see appellant's disabled car due to smoke from
the wreck. Arias struck appellant's car, was thrown from
the motorcycle, and landed on the freeway on his back. He
suffered severe injuries and was transported to a hospital.
was charged with intoxication manslaughter. Before trial
appellant filed a written motion to suppress blood draw
evidence and a written motion to suppress her oral statement
made after the accident. In appellant's written motion to
suppress the blood specimen, appellant argued that the blood
evidence seized was obtained without a valid search warrant.
The trial court held a hearing outside the presence of the
jury on both motions.
the suppression hearing, Officer Salvador Corral, a member of
the Houston Police Department Driving While Intoxicated Task
Force, testified that he was dispatched to the scene of the
accident. When he arrived he spoke with appellant and noticed
she put off an odor of alcoholic beverage, and had bloodshot,
droopy eyes. Corral moved appellant off of the freeway to a
safe location and began the first portion of the
investigation. At that time, appellant voluntarily agreed to
talk with Corral and he heard appellant's slurred speech.
Corral noticed no injuries on appellant. Appellant told
Corral that she had been at a bar called Anvil, where she had
consumed three drinks, the last one at 5:00 p.m. Appellant
said she left Anvil to meet a friend at a restaurant.
Appellant told Corral that she was at the restaurant until
7:30 p.m. When Corral asked where appellant was between 7:30
p.m. and midnight, appellant answered that she must have
fallen asleep because she was drinking. Appellant had no
memory of the accident, which occurred just after midnight.
performed three standardized field sobriety tests on
appellant, horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), walk-and-turn,
and one-leg stand. Appellant failed the HGN and walk-and-turn
tests, but passed the one-leg stand test. Corral also asked
appellant to recite the alphabet from A to Z, and appellant
was unable to correctly recite the alphabet. Corral then read
the standard statutory warning that explains the consequences
of refusing consent for a breath or blood sample. Appellant
appellant refused consent, Corral contacted the District
Attorney's office and swore an affidavit for a search
warrant. The search-warrant affidavit details the facts
surrounding Corral's encounter with appellant and
appellant's performance on the sobriety-field tests. In
the body of the affidavit Corral correctly notes that the
accident occurred on October 15, 2013, but underneath
Corral's signature, the affidavit reads, "Sworn to
and Subscribed before me on this October 15, 2012, A.D. at
4:16 AM." The date on the jurat inaccurately reflects
the year the accident happened as 2012 rather than 2013. The
search warrant, signed by Judge Villareal, a magistrate in
Harris County, states that it was signed on October 15, 2013,
at 4:14 a.m. Corral explained that the incorrect year in the
jurat was a computer glitch caused when filling out the
template. The body of the affidavit contained the correct
date. Corral also explained that Officer Roman, who witnessed
Corral's signature, filled out the time that the
affidavit was signed at 4:16. Judge Villareal filled out the
time, 4:14, on the search warrant. The two-minute discrepancy
was due to the individuals checking the time with different
timepieces. According to Corral, he completed and signed the
affidavit before the magistrate signed the search warrant.
Corral testified that Judge Villareal administered an oath
and that Corral swore in front of the magistrate that the
facts in the affidavit were within his personal knowledge.
obtaining the search warrant, Corral took appellant to the
hospital, where an emergency room nurse drew appellant's
blood at 4:31 a.m. and again at 5:04 a.m. Corral testified
that both blood draws were done after he had received the
search warrant. The purpose of taking the second blood draw
was to show metabolization of alcohol.
On cross-examination, Corral testified:
Q. And you got two blood draws from that one warrant; is ...