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Jackson v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

July 27, 2017


         On Appeal from the 248th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 1495747

          Panel consists of Justices Boyce, Donovan, and Jewell.



         A jury found Shaun Adrian Jackson guilty of evading arrest with a motor vehicle. See Tex. Penal Code § 38.04(b)(2)(A) (West 2016). On appeal, he acknowledges the State proved all elements of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt except, he contends, the State did not present legally sufficient evidence that he was the driver. We conclude the evidence of appellant's identity as the driver is legally sufficient and affirm the judgment.

          Factual Background

         The following facts are based on the guilt/innocence phase trial evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict.

         The evasion and pursuit. Deputy Constable David Vest sat in his marked patrol car in a school zone on Studewood Street shortly before 8:00 a.m. on a school day. He saw a small, blue, hatchback Mazda speed through the school zone. The windows were not tinted. Vest could see a driver and a passenger in the front seat. Vest immediately began pursuit and activated his patrol car's emergency lights, which automatically activated the car's dashboard video recorder, also known as a dash cam.

         As his patrol car approached the rear of the Mazda, Vest, using his speaker, verbally directed the Mazda's driver to pull over. The Mazda's right turn signal began to flash, indicating the driver would turn right onto a nearby side street. However, instead of turning right, the driver suddenly sped away on Studewood.

         Vest sounded his car's siren and followed the Mazda for several miles on crowded city streets and eventually onto Interstate 10. The Mazda weaved through traffic at a high rate of speed, violating several traffic laws as the driver sped through red lights and drove into oncoming traffic lanes. During the pursuit, Vest could see that a man was driving. He also saw a female passenger hop back and forth between the front seat and the back seat several times.

         Heavy morning traffic on Interstate 10 forced the Mazda to slow, allowing Vest to catch up. The Mazda was one lane left of the patrol car, so Vest moved forward just enough to angle the patrol car to the left in order to block the Mazda. The driver's side of the patrol car was near the front part of the Mazda. The Mazda's driver then, in Vest's words, "rammed" the middle of the patrol car's driver's side with the right front area of the Mazda. Vest could see the Mazda driver's face at the time of the collision, and he made eye contact with the driver. At trial, Vest identified appellant as the Mazda's driver. He testified that he considers himself an above-average eyewitness due to his police training.

         On cross-examination, Vest acknowledged the call log for the incident, which was based in part on Vest's broadcast statements over his radio as the pursuit occurred, indicated the Mazda's two occupants were Hispanic, whereas appellant is African-American and the female occupant is caucasian. Vest said it is possible he broadcast the wrong information due to his adrenaline pumping during the pursuit, but it is also possible the person inputting information into the call log did so incorrectly.

         Vest pursued the Mazda on Interstate 10 for a short time after the collision. However, he ended the pursuit at 8:03 a.m. for public safety concerns without stopping the Mazda.

         After the pursuit. At approximately the same time, local business owner John Graham was in his office at a manufacturing facility not far from where Vest ended the pursuit. Graham testified that a car drove onto the property at around 7:00 a.m. or 8:00 a.m. Graham investigated and saw a small, blue, "relatively new" hatchback about twenty feet away from his office. The car was damaged on the front passenger side. Graham saw a woman take bags of clothes and other items out of the backseat. Graham also saw a man emerge from the driver's seat and walk toward the trunk. Graham, who was standing near the rear of the car, got a "good look" at the man as he walked to the trunk. The man and the woman then ran away from the facility, leaving the car. Graham called 911 and reported the incident.

         At trial, Graham identified appellant as the man he saw. He was confident in his identification for two reasons. First, Graham was inches away from the man's face as the man walked to the trunk after exiting the driver's seat. Second, nothing like that had happened in the twenty-three years Graham had worked at that facility, a "very obscure little ...

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