Appeal from the 177th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 1501967
consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Donovan and
pleaded guilty to engaging in organized criminal activity
predicated on multiple robberies. See Tex. Penal
Code § 71.02(a)(1). The trial court assessed punishment
and sentenced him to twenty-five years' confinement. In a
single issue, appellant contends that under the Eighth
Amendment to the United States Constitution, his sentence is
grossly disproportionate to the sentences of his
co-defendants and his involvement in the offense. We affirm.
sentencing hearing, the trial court admitted without
objection the pre-sentence investigation (PSI) report and the
State's memorandum on punishment. According to the
documents, appellant was an "upper mid-level"
member of a combination. See Tex. Penal Code §
71.01(a) (defining "combination" for purposes of
the offense as "three or more persons who collaborate in
carrying on criminal activities"). By the time of
sentencing, the State had charged twenty-one members of the
combination with criminal offenses.
combination is a violent and highly organized group of
aggravated robbers known as "All Bout Money, ABM, and
300 Audrey Lane." The combination focuses on armed
robberies of cell phone stores to obtain new high-end cell
phones, and the combination also participates in burglaries
State connected appellant to three aggravated robberies at
Radio Shack, Verizon, and Sprint stores. During the Radio
Shack robbery, appellant and two others entered the store
with a gun. During the Verizon and Sprint robberies,
appellant served as a getaway driver. While fleeing the
Sprint robbery, appellant led the police on a high-speed
chase through residential neighborhoods. After two of the
tires on the getaway car blew out and one came off, appellant
fled on foot until he was apprehended by a K-9 unit.
report indicated that appellant had received deferred
adjudication in a prior offense of possession of marijuana in
a drug free zone, and another charge of possession of a
controlled substance was dismissed. The State adduced
evidence of appellant's school records, showing many
disciplinary actions; several incidents involved violence
against other students. The court also admitted surveillance
videos of the Verizon and Sprint robberies, showing the
gunmen interacting with employees and customers. A Sprint
store employee testified about the impact on the employees
and the business from the various robberies at the stores.
adduced supportive testimony from his mother and grandfather.
The trial court admitted letters of support from about two
the trial court denied appellant's request for probation
and sentenced him to twenty-five years' confinement,
appellant filed a motion for new trial. In one of the
grounds, appellant alleged that his sentence was
"grossly disproportionate to the crime committed and to
that of his co-defendants." After a hearing, the trial
court overruled the ground concerning a grossly
disproportionate sentence and the other ground presented in
contends that his sentence should be vacated because it is
"grossly disproportionate to that of his co-defendants
and to his involvement in the case."
Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution's ban
on cruel and unusual punishment requires that punishment be
graduated and proportioned to the offense. State v.
Simpson, 488 S.W.3d 318, 322 (Tex. Crim. App. 2016). But
this narrow principle does not require strict proportionality
between the crime and sentence. Id. "Rather, it
forbids only extreme sentences that are 'grossly