Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
Appeal from the 140th District Court Lubbock County, Texas
Trial Court No. 2014-404, 207, Honorable Jim Bob Darnell,
CAMPBELL and PIRTLE and PARKER, JJ.
T. Campbell Justice
Dannie Whaley appeals from his conviction by jury of the
offense of aggravated assault by threat with a deadly
weapon and the resulting sentence of forty years
of imprisonment. Appellant challenges his conviction
through two issues. We will affirm the judgment of the trial
was indicted for an aggravated assault by threat against his
wife, Judy, by threatening her with bodily injury through the
use of gasoline and a lighter.
wife filed for divorce but the couple was still living
together. The events leading to appellant's conviction
occurred the next month, after a conversation in which Judy
told appellant she was not in love with him anymore. Judy
testified appellant tried to talk with her about her
statement but she refused. Later that night, while she was
sleeping in their home's master bedroom with the
couple's two young children, she was awakened by
appellant coming into the room, asking to speak with her. She
again told him she did not feel like talking. She went back
to sleep but woke later to find something cold being poured
on her. She realized it was gasoline, jumped out of the bed,
and asked appellant what he was doing. She attempted to use
her phone but appellant told her to "chunk" it or
he would "strike" the lighter he was holding. She
complied, she said, because their children were still in the
bed and because she was "extremely scared."
begged appellant to allow her to take a shower to wash the
gasoline from her body. He permitted her to do so. She cried
during her shower and appellant told her to stop
"whining." Appellant also removed the
gasoline-covered mattress from the bed and placed it in
another room. The two apparently slept the rest of the night
in the same bed.
the couple awoke in the morning, appellant asked Judy for the
passcode to her phone. Judy testified she believed his
request was related to his belief she was not faithful to
him. She told appellant to leave her alone but then decided
to look for the gas can appellant had used the night before.
She could not find it and ran out of the house, screaming for
help because she was afraid appellant had the gas can and was
going to pour gas on her again. Appellant grabbed her neck
and scratched her face, trying to get her back into the
house. A neighbor called the police, informing them a woman
was calling for help.
officers, Wedeking and Stucky, responded to the call.
Wedeking approached the house and heard arguing. Judy
answered the door. She was "crying, very upset,
distraught." The officer saw "a scratch on the
right side of her face." When Wedeking entered the home,
he smelled an "excessively strong" odor of gasoline
inside the house. The smell was coming from Judy as well.
Judy told the officers what had happened.
spoke to appellant. Appellant told him he was cleaning spark
plugs for a lawnmower and he and Judy got into an argument.
Judy accidentally knocked the gas can out of his hand and
some of the gas spilled. Wedeking arrested appellant, and
among the items he found during his pat-down search of
appellant was a cigarette lighter. The officers also observed
the mattress had a yellow stain and a strong odor of
gasoline. The officers also found a gas spigot for a gas can
on the floor next to the mattress and smelled an
"extremely strong" odor of gasoline inside the
washing machine where the sheets were being washed.
Judy's clothes from the night before were found in the
bathroom trash can and were "saturated" with
gasoline. A gas can was found on the step just outside the
back door. It was nearly empty.
did not testify at trial, but for his version of the events
relies on Wedeking's testimony relating what appellant