Appeal from the County Criminal Court at Law No. 4 Harris
County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2013774
consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Boyce and
Thompson Frost Chief Justice
of driving while intoxicated, appellant Eric Joseph Corley
challenges the trial court's admission of
retrograde-extrapolation evidence of his blood-alcohol
content. Concluding that the trial court reasonably could
have determined that the retrograde-extrapolation evidence
was reliable, we overrule the challenge and affirm.
and Procedural Background
Joseph Little stopped appellant for speeding (91 miles per
hour) while weaving through interstate traffic in the dark.
It was 9:57 p.m. After Officer Little smelled alcohol and
noticed appellant's eyes were glassy, he gave appellant
three standard field-sobriety tests and saw clues of
intoxication on each test. Appellant told Officer Little that
on a scale of one to ten, with one being sober and ten being
highly intoxicated, appellant would rate himself as a two or
Little arrested appellant and took him to the police station.
There, appellant took two Breathalyzer tests. The first test
result, at 10:59 p.m., registered at .109; the second, at
11:02 p.m., came in at .110.
with driving while intoxicated, appellant pleaded "not
guilty." During the jury trial that followed, Officer
Little described his roadside encounter with appellant.
Expert witness Tasha Israel then opined that based on
appellant's breath-test results, appellant was
intoxicated at the time of the stop.
Israel testified, appellant moved to exclude her testimony,
asserting it was unreliable because Israel did not have
enough information to perform a reliable retrograde
extrapolation. After conducting a hearing outside of the
presence of the jury, the trial court denied appellant's
jury found appellant guilty as charged. The trial court
assessed punishment at 180 days' confinement, but
suspended the sentence and placed appellant on community
supervision for one year.
urges a single point on appeal: The trial court abused its
discretion in admitting the expert's
retrograde-extrapolation testimony because it was unreliable.
review a trial court's admission of evidence for an abuse
of discretion. Willover v. State, 70 S.W.2d 841, 845
(Tex. Crim. App. 2002). Under an abuse-of-discretion
standard, we will not disturb the trial court's decision
if the ruling falls within the zone of reasonable
disagreement. Tillman v. State, 354 S.W.3d 425, 435
(Tex. Crim. App. 2011).
of retrograde-extrapolation evidence
expert witness may testify as to the expert's opinion
based on scientific knowledge if it will help the trier of
fact understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue.
Tex. R. Evid. 702. To show that the expert's opinion
would be helpful, the party offering the scientific proof,
among other things, must demonstrate by clear and convincing
evidence that the proof is reliable. Jackson v.
State, 17 S.W.3d 664, 670 (Tex. Crim. App. 2000).
Reliability may be established by showing (1) the validity of
the underlying scientific theory, (2) the validity of the
technique applying the theory, and (3) the proper application
of the technique on the occasion in question. Kelly v.
State, 824 S.W.2d 568, 573 (Tex. Crim. App. 1992).
extrapolation is the process of computing a person's
blood-alcohol level at the time of driving based on the
alcohol level found in the person's blood, drawn some
time later. Mata v. State, 46 S.W.3d 902, 908-09
(Tex. Crim. App. 2001). Retrograde-extrapolation testimony
can be reliable if certain factors are known. Veliz v.
State, 474 S.W.3d 354, 359 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th
Dist.] 2015, pet. ref'd). A paramount consideration is
the expert's ability to apply the science and explain it
with clarity. Mata, 46 S.W.3d at 916. The expert
must demonstrate some understanding of the difficulties
associated with a retrograde extrapolation and must ...