Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
Appeal from the 364th District Court Lubbock County, Texas
Trial Court No. 2013-437, 082, Honorable William R. Eichman
QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PIRTLE, JJ.
Quinn Chief Justice
appeals his conviction for possession of a firearm by a
felon. Through a single issue, he invokes the corpus
delecti rule to contend that the evidence was
insufficient to show that he had possessed the firearm within
five years from the date of his release from prison. We
standard of review is explained in Fernandez v.
State, 479 S.W.3d 835 (Tex. Crim. App. 2016). We apply
the corpus delecti rule "is one of evidentiary
sufficiency affecting cases in which there is an
extrajudicial confession." Miller v. State, 457
S.W.3d 919, 924 (Tex. Crim. App. 2015). Under it, a
defendant's extrajudicial confession alone is not legally
sufficient evidence of guilt; rather, there must be
independent evidence of the corpus delecti. Id. That
is, there must be independent evidence showing that someone,
not necessarily the accused, committed the
"'essential nature'" of the charged crime.
Id.; see Emery v. State, 881 S.W.2d 702, 705 (Tex.
Crim. App. 1994) (stating that the independent evidence need
not connect the defendant but only show that a crime was
committed). Yet, the independent evidence alone need not
prove the crime's commission; rather, it need only be
some evidence rendering the corpus delecti more
probable than it would be without the evidence. Emery v.
State, 881 S.W.2d at 705; Bradford v. State, __
S.W.3d __, 2017 Tex.App. LEXIS 703, at *6 (Tex. App.-Houston
[14th Dist.] Jan. 26, 2017, no pet); Johnson v.
State, No. 07-99-00491-CR, 2000 Tex.App. LEXIS 4551, at
*5 (Tex. App.-Amarillo July 10, 2000, no pet.) (not
designated for publication).
put, the rule is one involving the corroboration of what was
said in the extrajudicial statement. See Watson v.
State, 154 Tex. Crim. 438, 443-44, 227 S.W.2d 559, 562
(1950) (posing the question as: in " [a]pplying these
principles of law, does the evidence corroborate the
confession, that is, does the evidence outside of the
confession, considered alone or in connection with the
confession, show that the crime . . . was committed by
someone"). Thus, the extrajudicial statement itself is
not ignored. It may be used in connection with the other
facts and circumstances to aid the proof of the corpus
delecti. Id.; Salazar v. State, 86 S.W.3d 640, 644-45
(Tex. Crim. App. 2002) (stating that the rule is satisfied
"if some evidence exists outside of the extra-judicial
confession which, considered alone or in connection with the
confession, shows that the crime actually occurred").
appellant was charged with violating § 46.04(a)(1) of
the Texas Penal Code. The latter makes it a crime for a felon
to possess a firearm "after conviction and before the
fifth anniversary of the person's release from
confinement following conviction of the felony or the
person's release from supervision under community
supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision, whichever date
is later." Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 46.04(a)(1) (West
2011). So, arguably, the corpus delecti at bar is
whether some felon carried a firearm within five years of
release from confinement or supervision.
of the Law
appellant stipulated that he had been convicted of a felony
on May 6, 2003. That conviction resulted in a seven-year
prison sentence, as illustrated by the May 6th judgment
manifesting his conviction. The record further illustrated
that, on October 27, 2012, an officer stopped appellant for
running a stop sign. While searching the car, a loaded .380
semiautomatic handgun was found under the driver's seat
of the vehicle, the very seat on which appellant sat.
Appellant told the officer that he "got" the weapon
"off the streets, " that he no longer wanted it,
that he had been convicted of a felony, that he went to
prison, and that he "got out of prison" in 2009.
from appellant's extrajudicial statement that he left
prison in 2009, no other evidence appears of record
indicating when he was released from confinement or from
supervision under community supervision, parole, or mandatory
supervision, whichever date was later. Why the State did not
tender any formal prison or like record illustrating that is
unknown. Nonetheless, there is independent evidence that
appellant was convicted of a felony on May 6, 2003, and
assessed a seven-year prison term. Seven years from May 6,
2003 would be May 6, 2010. If nothing else, this independent
evidence established the time parameters related to a felony
conviction, sentence, and fulfillment of that sentence.
Moreover, no one can reasonably deny that any day within the
year 2009 falls within five years of any day within the year
2012. This independent evidence, coupled with both the
logical inferences that can be drawn from it and
appellant's statement that the felon in question was
released from prison in 2009 makes it "more
probable" that a crime encompassed within §
46.04(a)(1) of the Penal Code occurred, and that is all the
corpus delecti rule required, under Miller
and Emery. So, appellant's contention that
application of the corpus delecti rule rendered the
evidence insufficient is mistaken.
is also wrong in arguing that our own precedent obligates us
to find the evidence insufficient. Unlike the situation here,
the record in Saldana v. State, 418 S.W.3d 722 (Tex.
App.-Amarillo 2013, no pet), had no evidence of when
appellant was released from confinement or supervision. Here,
appellant himself provided the requisite information, that
evidence being his statement about his release in
2009.Furthermore, he does not question, on
appeal, the admissibility of his statement. Thus, it is
susceptible to consideration in assessing the sufficiency of
the evidence to support his conviction.
some evidence appears of record to enable a reasonable juror
to conclude, beyond reasonable doubt, that appellant violated
§ 46.04(a)(1) of the Penal Code. ...