Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
the 216th Judicial District Court, Kendall County, Texas
Trial Court No. 16-011-JV Honorable Bill R. Palmer, Judge
Sitting: Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice Karen Angelini,
Justice Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice
underlying criminal matter, a juvenile court waived its
jurisdiction and transferred R.E.J.'s criminal case to
district court to stand trial as an adult. The juvenile court
found there was probable cause to believe R.E.J. committed
the following offenses: attempted capital murder, aggravated
robbery, burglary of a habitation, and aggravated assault. In
three issues on appeal, R.E.J. asserts (1) there is
insufficient evidence to support the probable cause finding
that he committed capital murder, (2) the juvenile court
abused its discretion by waiving jurisdiction and
transferring the case to criminal district court, and (3) the
evidence is insufficient to support the juvenile court's
findings under subsection (f) of Texas Family Code section
54.02. We affirm.
juvenile court may waive its exclusive original jurisdiction
and transfer a child to the appropriate district court for
criminal proceedings if:
child is alleged to have violated a penal law of the grade of
(A)14 years of age or older at the time he is alleged to have
committed the offense, if the offense is a capital felony, an
aggravated controlled substance felony, or a felony of the
first degree, and no adjudication hearing has been conducted
concerning that offense; or
(B)15 years of age or older at the time the child is alleged
to have committed the offense, if the offense is a felony of
the second or third degree or a state jail felony, and no
adjudication hearing has been conducted concerning that
(3)after a full investigation and a hearing, the juvenile
court determines that there is probable cause to believe that
the child before the court committed the offense alleged
and that because of the seriousness of the offense alleged or
the background of the child the welfare of the community
requires criminal proceedings.
Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 54.02(a) (West 2014) (emphasis
was charged with several felonies; however, on appeal, he
challenges the sufficiency of the evidence only on the
probable cause finding as to capital murder.
Findings of Fact
initial matter, we address R.E.J.'s argument that the
transfer order must be reversed because there are no
case-specific findings of fact to support the probable cause
the juvenile court waives jurisdiction, it shall state
specifically in the order its reasons for waiver and certify
its action, including the written order and findings of the
court . . . ." Tex.
Code § 54.02(h). The Texas Court of Criminals Appeals
. . . Section 54.02(h) obviously contemplates that both the
juvenile court's reasons for waiving its jurisdiction and
the findings of fact that undergird those reasons should
appear in the transfer order. In this way the Legislature has
required that, in order to justify the broad discretion
invested in the juvenile court, that court should take pains
to "show its work, " as it were, by spreading its
deliberative process on the record, thereby providing a
sure-footed and definite basis from which an appellate court
can determine that its decision was in fact appropriately
guided by the statutory criteria, principled, and reasonable
. . . .
Moon v. State, 451 S.W.3d 28, 49 (Tex. Crim. App.
2014); see also Rodriguez v. State, 478 S.W.3d 783,
786 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2015, pet. ref'd) (juvenile
court's order must show 54.02(f) factors were considered
in making determination).
case, the juvenile court's Waiver of Jurisdiction and
Order of Transfer stated only that there was "probable
cause to believe [R.E.J.] committed the offenses alleged in
the Original Petition for Discretionary Transfer to Criminal
Court . . . ." However, the juvenile court later entered
specific additional findings of fact on the issue of probable
cause. The juvenile court found R.E.J. admitted he entered
Jenks Boston's home with the intent to steal and he
admitted he stabbed Boston. The court also found that a
fingerprint matched to R.E.J. was found on Boston's
truck; R.E.J. and another juvenile were described by Boston;
R.E.J. and the other juvenile were seen driving away from
Boston's house within a short time of Boston calling 911;
and R.E.J. and the other juvenile fled law enforcement in a
high-speed chase. We conclude these findings are sufficiently
case specific with regard to the probable cause finding.
See Matthews v. State, 513 S.W.3d 45, 57 (Tex.
App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2016, pet. ref'd) (among other
case-specific findings, juvenile court sufficiently stated,
"There was probable cause to believe that appellant
committed the felony offense of capital murder against a
person"); Rodriguez, 478 S.W.3d at 789 (among
other case-specific findings, juvenile court sufficiently
stated, "Following a full investigation and hearing, the
Court found probable cause to believe the child committed the
offense . . . ."). We next address R.E.J.'s argument
that the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to
support the juvenile court's probable cause finding as to
Standard of Review
waiver or transfer hearing is not held for the purpose of
determining guilt or innocence; it is held for "the
purpose of establishing whether the child's and
society's best interest are met by maintaining juvenile
custody of the child or by transferring the child to district
court for adult proceedings." Matter of A.A.,
929 S.W.2d 649, 653 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1996, no writ).
"While the presumption of innocence applies to
'adjudication' proceedings, it does not apply to
'transfer' proceedings in which the issue is merely
whether the juvenile should be tried as an adult."
juvenile court need only determine probable cause that the
juvenile committed the offense charged. Id.
"Probable cause" for this purpose is defined as
sufficient facts and circumstances to warrant a prudent
individual to believe the suspect committed or was committing
an offense. Id. "The probable cause standard of
proof embraces a practical, common sense approach rather than
the more technical standards applied in the burdens of proof
either beyond a reasonable doubt or a preponderance of the
evidence." In re J.P.O., 904 S.W.2d 695, 700
(Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 1995, writ denied). The State does
not bear the burden to establish the juvenile's guilt,
but only to present evidence that will allow the juvenile
court to exercise its sound discretion in transferring the
case to district court for criminal proceedings. Matter
of A.A., 929 S.W.2d at 653.
no adjudication hearing had yet been conducted concerning any
of the alleged offenses, the following background is taken
from the hearing on the State's petition for
discretionary transfer to criminal court.
Boston testified he spent the morning of March 23, 2016,
working in his yard at his home in the City of Fair Oaks
Ranch. At the time, his wife and children were not at home.
At about mid-morning, Boston decided to shower and prepare
for a meeting he had in San Antonio. When he dressed, he
placed his handgun into a holster on his belt. As he walked
out of his bedroom, Boston glanced into a study/office area
and noticed a three-foot long iron stake used to post real
estate signs laying on the couch. Because Boston recognized
the stake as one he kept in the garage, he stepped up to the
couch to look at it. As he did so, he felt "a very
severe blow from behind, " he went down on the couch,
and someone started to "punch and stab [him] very, very
violently, very rapidly from behind." As he turned to
try to push his attacker away, Boston saw a knife. His
attacker turned and ran. Boston saw another person in the
house who also turned and ran away. Both individuals ran
through the house, through the kitchen, and out to the
driveway. Boston ran after the two individuals, but by the
time he reached his driveway, they were in their car driving
away. He said he noticed the contents of the glove
compartment of his pickup truck were strewn everywhere.
Boston said he drew his gun and pointed it at the two
individuals as he ran after them, but he did not fire the
weapon. Boston said the gun was not visible to his attacker
because the gun was concealed under a long shirt that was not
tucked into his pants.
said he could only identify the two individuals as two young
teenage Hispanic males. As he watched the two juveniles drive
away, Boston realized he was standing in a puddle of blood.
He called 911 while trying to put pressure on his wounds. Dr.
Vela, a physician who treated Boston, said Boston sustained
"three pretty significant stab wounds to his upper right
back and a less minor [sic] injury to the right side of his
face." Dr. Vela agreed Boston sustained "a serious
Boerne Police Officer Douglas Meuth testified he answered a
dispatch call from someone-later identified as Jenks
Boston-saying he had been stabbed and mugged in his home.
When Officer Meuth arrived at the Boston house, another
officer was present and administering first aid to Boston.
Kendall County Sherriff's Office Investigator James Whitt
testified he pulled fingerprints from Boston's truck that
were later identified as belonging to R.E.J. Whitt said the
bloody kitchen knife measured eleven inches long, and the
metal stake measured about forty-eight inches long. Whitt
also testified about R.E.J.'s possible gang affiliation.
meantime, based on Boston's description of the car driven
by the juveniles, police were able to locate and stop the
vehicle. The driver of the car briefly stopped and then drove
off again at a high speed, approaching 100 miles per hour
while travelling into the on-coming lane of traffic and on
the shoulder of the road. At one point, the driver of the car
drove through a busy intersection at about eighty miles per
hour. The driver eventually crashed into another vehicle,
bringing the high-speed chase to an end. R.E.J. exited the
car and ran directly toward another police officer. R.E.J.
identified himself to the officer who took R.E.J. into
custody and transported him to the police station.
at the police station, R.E.J. received the magistrate's
warnings before giving his video-recorded statement to the
police. In his statement, R.E.J. admitted he and his friend
entered the Boston house through the open garage door to
steal from the house. When he heard a man's voice, R.E.J.
got a knife from the kitchen to intimidate the man. However,
when R.E.J. saw the man had a gun, he stabbed the man to
prevent the man from shooting him. R.E.J. said he and his
friend were both afraid as they entered the house, and his
friend brought the metal stake into the house to defend
himself. R.E.J. agreed with the police officers interviewing
him that he could have left the house instead of stabbing
Boston, but at the time everything happened "so
fast." R.E.J. said this was the first time he had ever
been in this neighborhood.
Thomas Matjeka countered R.E.J.'s version of the events
by testifying R.E.J. would have had to pass the front door to
get the knife from the kitchen, which was near the garage. At
both points in time-passing the front door and while in the
kitchen-R.E.J. could ...