Appeal from the 248th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 1452040
consists of Justices Jennings, Keyes, and Brown.
V. Keyes Justice.
convicted appellant, Dedric D'Shawn Jones, of the
third-degree felony offense of assault on a family member,
second offender. After appellant pleaded true to the
allegations in two enhancement paragraphs, the trial court
assessed his punishment at twenty-five years'
confinement. In two issues, appellant contends that (1) the
trial court erroneously limited his cross-examination of a
witness by refusing to allow him to cross-examine the witness
about her interest in ongoing child-custody proceedings
involving appellant's and the complainant's daughter,
and (2) the trial court erroneously excluded evidence
concerning the complainant's violent character.
reverse and remand.
December 17, 2014, appellant was living in a house with his
girlfriend, the complainant Amy Jimenez, their one-year-old
daughter, and Jimenez's mother, Adeline Gonzales. All
four of them started watching a movie in the living room of
the house. Appellant made inappropriate comments about a
scene in the movie, and Jimenez told him to stop because
Gonzales was in the room. Gonzales testified that "there
was a lot of frustration in the room." She left the room
with the baby, and appellant went into the garage. Gonzales
later returned to the living room and told Jimenez that the
baby needed some items from the store for school.
Appellant's and Gonzales's accounts of what happened
after this point differ dramatically.
to appellant, after he left the living room, he stayed in the
garage for about an hour and a half playing a game on his
cell phone. Jimenez "came in the garage a few
times" and talked to him. Defense counsel asked whether
there was a fight every time Jimenez came into the garage,
and appellant replied that there was no fight, but "she
was trying to pick a fight[.]"
was sitting between two cars playing on his phone, basically
ignoring Jimenez. She then got "in [his] face" and
"karate kick[ed the] phone out of [his] hand." When
asked by his counsel whether Jimenez slapped the phone down
or kicked it, appellant replied, "She did a pretty good
karate kick." He stated that the phone "hit the
car, fell on the floor. I'm in a tight little space. She
kind of hit my hand pretty hard." Appellant then slapped
Jimenez. When asked whether Gonzales saw the confrontation,
appellant replied, "I doubt it" because of the
tight area and because Jimenez's back was "towards
the window of the kitchen by the door" to the garage.
to Gonzales, however, Jimenez went out to the garage, and she
and appellant started arguing. Jimenez wanted the keys to the
car to go to the store, and appellant would not answer her.
Gonzales testified that she had the baby in her arms, and she
opened the garage door to give Jimenez some money. She saw
appellant take "a swing at [Jimenez] and he hit her in
the face." The prosecutor then asked her, "Now
prior to you seeing that, did you see [Jimenez] make any
contact, physical contact with the defendant?" Gonzales
replied, "She was trying to get his attention. He had a
cell phone in his hand. She whacked the phone in his
did not know what happened to the phone, but, in response to
the prosecutor's statement, "So you're saying
you saw [Jimenez] make contact with his phone, " she
replied, "Right, trying to get his attention." In
response to the prosecutor's question, "What did
that sound like when he struck your daughter?" Gonzales
testified, "I mean, it was pretty hard because her whole
face went back. I looked back at her. I saw blood coming out
of her face, " out of "[h]er lip, right here,
mouth." Gonzales then started screaming to appellant,
"I told you not to put your hands on her anymore."
She stated, "I had the baby in my arms and I told
[Jimenez], I said, Get out, get in your car, go your
dad's house." Jimenez looked "pretty scared.
She had a look on her face I had never seen before and
I'm a mother. I felt what I was looking at and I said,
Get out of here, get in your car and go. And I'll call
you when you can come back." Gonzales then called 9-1-1.
She testified that she did not see Jimenez kick appellant
"at any point, " explaining, "I was standing
in the middle of them by that time and there was a car
did not immediately leave after the altercation with Jimenez.
He demanded to kiss and hug his daughter. He testified,
"[Gonzales] is real possessive of my daughter. She
wouldn't let me get my daughter. So I stayed around
longer. [Gonzales was] yelling at me. And I'm yelling at
her, just trying to see my daughter real quick before I
left." No other blows were thrown. Appellant testified
that he went back into the house to get his wallet and
identification, and when he discovered that Gonzales had
called 9-1-1, he jumped the fence and went to the park.
Appellant came back to the house after the police arrived,
and he was arrested.
had left the scene in response to Gonzales's order before
any of this happened. Gonzales testified extensively,
however, as to appellant's behavior after Jimenez left.
According to her testimony, appellant ransacked the interior
of the house and came back into the garage, "[s]creaming
obscenities, calling me everything in the book and ransacking
what he could. I had [the baby] in my arms. I was more afraid
of that than anything else." She stated, "I was
afraid to go back in the house." Appellant came back
into the garage, and the baby was "crying, crying,
" and Gonzales was trying to calm her down. Appellant
picked up a jack that was in the garage and started swinging
it just a couple of feet from Gonzales while screaming
obscenities at her, including "Get your own F'ing
baby. This is my F'ing baby. You rotten F'ing B. It
was going on and on." She stated that appellant also
kicked the doors to her car. She kept screaming, "Get
out of here, get out of here, get of here, " and
appellant said in response, "I'm going to get out of
here when I kiss my baby."
to Gonzales, appellant grabbed the baby, saying "I just
want to hug my baby, " while Gonzales still held the
baby in her arms. Gonzales "kept telling [appellant] to
leave [the baby] alone because she started crying. And he
grabbed her little leg and he started doing this to her
little body. And it scared me, because I said, My God, he
could have ripped her spinal cord. I let her go."
Appellant stepped away "because he was leaving with [the
baby], " holding her "like a rag doll under his
arm. And she was crying and crying. He's screaming."
Gonzales testified that the baby
was pushing and pushing and she was screaming this loud cry
like I never heard it before. [Appellant] finally puts her
down because she's wiggling to get away from him. He puts
her down and he kind of nudges her and I ran toward her and I
grabbed her. I had her in my arms. I wouldn't let her go.
He was still screaming at me, I'm going to get her.
I'm going to get her. At that point I was going to do
whatever I needed to do because I wasn't going to let her
the police arrived, appellant went back inside the house and
escaped out the back door over the fence.
testified that Jimenez drove up a few minutes later, and
"[s]he was mad, telling me, Mom, why did you call the
police? Why did you call the police. . . . She's upset
and she's screaming. I'm trying to regroup to
what's just happening. The baby's still crying and
it's a whole lot of commotion going on at the same
time." Jimenez "had a big ball in her lip. . . .
You could see a little dried blood on her face. She had a big
ball on her lip here." Both Gonzales and Jimenez were
interviewed by the police.
asked whether he told his side of the story to the police,
appellant testified, "I didn't feel like my story
means anything. Two angry women." He also testified that
Jimenez did not file charges against him, she failed to
receive a letter of non-prosecution to sign that he had sent
to her, and she came to visit him every day he was in jail
prior to trial. Appellant testified that Jimenez and Gonzales
had a volatile relationship, but the court sustained as
irrelevant the State's objection to the question of
whether appellant had ever seen Jimenez strike her mother.
Appellant finally testified that the other cases he had had
involving family violence also had to do with knocking a
phone out of someone's hand; he was charged and pled
guilty in order "[t]o come home and take care of my
Police Department Officer J. Portillo responded to
Gonzales's 9-1-1 call. As he approached the house, he saw
Gonzales and Jimenez walk into the garage. Both of them
"seemed pretty upset and emotional." Officer
Portillo observed redness on Jimenez's face and a cut on
her upper lip. Although Jimenez ultimately spoke with Officer
Portillo, she initially did not want to speak to police.
Officer Portillo did not see any damage to property in the
garage, and the inside of the house did not appear to have
been ransacked, as Gonzales had testified.
voir dire but before the jury was sworn in, defense counsel
sought permission to introduce evidence of an ongoing Child
Protective Services ("CPS") proceeding to terminate
the parental rights of both appellant and Jimenez to their
daughter. Counsel argued:
[Defense Counsel]: The third and last point, Judge, it is my
understanding that CPS is involved and the welfare of the
[child] in whether or not parental rights were taken from the
complaining witness, [Jimenez], and the defendant, and that
one of the persons who may be-I don't know how to put
this gently-would get the grandchild would be the mother.
Again, it would go to motive as to why-if she sat up there
and saw, based on the police report, if she saw mutual
The Court: So you want to ask Adeline Gonzales whether
there's a CPS investigation and whether she gets the
children if that CPS issue was sustained?
[Defense Counsel]: Yes.
trial court ruled that this evidence was not relevant.
Defense counsel also sought permission to question Gonzales
about Jimenez's reputation in the community for violence
and, specifically, whether Jimenez had ever been violent
towards Gonzales. The trial court ruled that this evidence
was not relevant and was inadmissible under Rule of Evidence
in the trial, after Gonzales had testified before the jury,
defense counsel made an offer of proof concerning testimony
from Gonzales that the trial court had excluded. Gonzales
testified that Jimenez had threatened her on a few occasions
in the past. She also testified that Jimenez had hit her on
several occasions and that Jimenez had been the initial
aggressor. With respect to the termination proceedings,
defense counsel and Gonzales had the following exchange:
Q. Do you know that there's a CPS-that there's a
child custody battle going on to eliminate parental rights of
both Amy and Dedric?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you have an interest in that being done?
A. I don't understand what that means.
Q. Do you have a preference?
A. Do I have a preference of what?
Q. That their parental rights be terminated or not?
A. I don't have any say in that. That damage has been
done between ...