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Rodriguez v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

May 16, 2017

JESSY RODRIGUEZ, Appellant
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

         On Appeal from the 183rd District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 1453117

          Panel consists of Justices Keyes, Bland, and Huddle.

          OPINION

          EVELYN V. KEYES, JUSTICE

         A jury convicted appellant, Jessy Rodriguez, of the first-degree felony offense of aggravated robbery and assessed his punishment at thirty-eight years' confinement plus a $5, 000 fine.[1] In his sole issue, appellant contends that the State failed to present sufficient evidence that he committed the offense, either as the primary actor or under the law of parties.

         We affirm.

         Background

         On December 30, 2014, Marissa Alvarez, the complainant, lived with her son and her parents in an apartment on Keefer Road in Tomball, Texas. Keefer Road intersects with Highway 249 just north of the intersection of Highway 249 and FM 2920.

         Around 8:00 p.m., Alvarez left her apartment by herself to buy groceries and started walking to her car. When she left her apartment, she saw two men she had never seen before: a tall, thin man, and a shorter, "normal-sized" man. She turned a corner onto a sidewalk and heard the men running. Alvarez turned around and saw the taller of the two men pointing a gun at her. This man was wearing a bandana, but Alvarez could see around his eyes and could tell that he was "light-skinned." The other man had a slightly darker complexion. In Spanish, the men told her not to move and to give them her purse. She did so and "took off running back to [her] apartment, " while the men "took off running in another direction" toward a fence at the southern end of the apartment complex. Alvarez did not see the men get into a car, and she did not see a third person with them.

         Alvarez ran back to her apartment and told her mother that she had just been robbed. She and her mother then immediately called 9-1-1. The trial court admitted a recording of Alvarez's 9-1-1 call. Approximately five minutes after Alvarez started speaking with dispatch, another woman called 9-1-1 and reported an incident outside of a Shipley Do-Nuts shop located on Highway 249, in which three men in a white Impala attempted to rob a man. Alvarez could hear the other woman report this incident, and the 9-1-1 recording admitted by the trial court contained both Alvarez's call and the call concerning the Shipley incident. Alvarez estimated that, by car, the Shipley was a minute or two away from her apartment, and she stated that it was within walking distance.

         Tomball Police Department Officer K. Finney was dispatched to Keefer Road to meet with Alvarez. While Officer Finney was driving to Alvarez's apartment, he received another dispatch directing him to the Shipley on Highway 249, which is located just south of the intersection of Highway 249 and FM 2920. Dispatch provided Officer Finney with the description of the vehicle that the men were driving during the Shipley incident, and, when he arrived at the Shipley, he was informed that the vehicle had continued south down Highway 249. Officer Finney saw the vehicle at the drive-through of a Whataburger located less than half a mile south of the Shipley on Highway 249. He saw three people inside the car. Officer Finney confirmed that the license plate number of the vehicle matched the number provided by dispatch and turned on his emergency lights.

         The vehicle fled the Whataburger and once again continued driving south on Highway 249. Officer Finney followed the vehicle to the parking lot of McCoy's Building Supply, located approximately two-tenths of a mile south of the Whataburger on Highway 249. Officer Finney saw two men jump out the car and start running away. One of the men, later identified as Kyle Mutters, ran towards the front of Molly's Pub, located next to McCoy's. The officers placed Mutters in custody and found bullets in his pocket.

         Officer D. Sparks was also first dispatched to Alvarez's apartment before being re-routed to the Shipley Do-Nuts. By the time he arrived at the Shipley, Officer Finney had found the suspects' vehicle at Whataburger, and, just as Officer Sparks reached the Whataburger, he saw the vehicle pull out of the Whataburger and head south on Highway 249. He saw two people in the car: the driver, whom he later identified as appellant, and a passenger sitting behind the driver.

         Officer Sparks followed appellant's car and Officer Finney to McCoy's. By the time he arrived at McCoy's, the doors on appellant's car were wide open, the car was still running, and no one was inside. Officer Sparks heard yelling coming from Molly's Pub, and he saw officers placing Mutters under arrest. He knew from dispatch that there were potentially three people involved, so he decided to search the area for the other two suspects. During this search, Officer Sparks received information that one of the suspects, later identified as John Garcia, had gone back to the Whataburger and was waiting for someone to pick him up. Officer Sparks, along with other officers, placed Garcia under arrest.

         Corporal B. Patin was also originally dispatched to Alvarez's apartment, and he joined the pursuit of the Impala at the Whataburger. Corporal Patin and his canine partner searched the area around McCoy's, but when his canine did not make an alert he placed the canine in his patrol unit and conducted a manual search. During this search, an officer called out that he had found someone in a dumpster alongside Molly's Pub, and Corporal Patin ran over to assist in placing this individual, whom he identified in ...


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