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Renfroe v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Eleventh District

September 15, 2017

ROBERT BRUCE RENFROE, Appellant
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

         On Appeal from the 39th, District Court Haskell County, Texas, Trial Court Cause Nos. 6785 & 6770

          Panel consists of: Wright, C.J., Willson, J., and Bailey, J.

          OPINION

          MIKE WILLSON JUSTICE.

         Robert Bruce Renfroe complains on appeal that the sentences he received for two convictions constitute cruel and unusual punishment and that his trial counsel was ineffective. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts

         Appellant pleaded guilty to the offense of aggravated assault in Cause No. 6770, but the trial court deferred a finding of guilt, placed him on "deferred adjudication" community supervision for six years, and imposed a $1, 500 fine. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 22.02(a) (West 2011). The State later moved to revoke his community supervision and adjudicate his guilt based upon Appellant's alleged violations of the terms and conditions of his community supervision. Specifically, the State alleged that Appellant had committed the offense of assault causing bodily injury to a family member, had failed to timely report a charge against him to his probation officer, and had possessed a deadly weapon-a machete.

         Before the hearing on the State's motion to revoke, Appellant's trial counsel informed the trial court that Appellant had suffered a stroke thirteen months before the hearing. Appellant's trial counsel told the trial court, after he had spoken with Appellant, that he believed Appellant was competent. Appellant told the trial court that he had been able to answer his trial counsel's questions, that he understood what was happening in court, and that he had never been found incompetent by any court. The trial court found that Appellant was competent.

         After the trial court found that Appellant was competent, it held a hearing on the State's motion to revoke. Appellant's probation officer, Christopher Davis, testified that Appellant never notified him of the pending charge of assault causing bodily injury to a family member. Appellant's wife, Gwynn Grazetti Renfroe, testified that Appellant threatened her, struck her in the eye, and used a machete to hit a picture above her head. Charlene Williams, Officer Brandon Jacob of the Haskell Police Department, and Haskell Chief of Police Scott Kennedy testified that they saw Gwynn's face the day of the incident and that she had sustained bruises and injuries to her face.

         After the hearing on the motion, the trial court found "true" the State's allegations of Appellant's violations of the terms and conditions of his community supervision. The trial court revoked Appellant's community supervision and adjudicated him guilty of the offense of aggravated assault. During the punishment portion of the hearing, David Halliburton, a former Haskell County sheriff, testified that Appellant had a bad reputation for being a law-abiding person. Appellant testified on his own behalf and explained that his mental ability had deteriorated due to his stroke, that he had trouble sleeping, and that he suffered from various physical ailments. After the punishment portion of the hearing, the trial court assessed punishment at confinement for ten years, sentenced Appellant, and ordered him to pay all fines, fees, court costs, and court-appointed attorney's fees.

         In Cause No. 6785, Appellant pleaded guilty to the offense of theft of a firearm, and the trial court assessed punishment at confinement for two years, suspended the imposition of the sentence, and placed Appellant on community supervision for five years. See Penal § 31.03(e)(4)(C) (West Supp. 2016). Later, the State moved to revoke Appellant's community supervision in this case. The State alleged the same violations as in the aggravated assault case but also alleged that Appellant had failed to pay court costs for more than a year. The trial court heard the motion to revoke in the theft case during the same hearing as the motion in the aggravated assault case, found that the allegations were "true, " revoked Appellant's community supervision, imposed the original sentence of confinement for two years, and ordered him to pay all fines, fees, and court costs.

         II. Analysis

         A. Issue One: Appellant failed to preserve his cruel and unusual punishment complaint for appellate review, but even if preserved, his claim fails because his sentences were not cruel or unusual.

         Appellant asserts in his first issue that the trial court violated his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, as defined by the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution.[1] He argues that the trial court violated evolving standards of decency in light of Appellant's stroke and related disabilities when it sentenced him to confinement for ten years for the aggravated assault offense and confinement for two years for the theft offense. In response, the State asserts that Appellant's sentences were not cruel and unusual because the sentences fell within the statutory range of punishment and because of the seriousness of the offenses.

         1. Appellant did not complain about his sentence in the theft case at the time that the trial court originally sentenced ...


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