Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin
In the Matter of J. E. C.
THE DISTRICT COURT OF TRAVIS COUNTY, 98TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT
NO. JV35570, HONORABLE RHONDA HURLEY, JUDGE PRESIDING
Chief Justice Rose, Justices Goodwin and Bourland
Rose, Chief Justice
was adjudicated delinquent by the district court, sitting as
a juvenile court, for committing the offense of aggravated
assault with a deadly weapon. See Tex. Penal Code
§ 22.02(a)(2); Tex. Fam. Code § 51.03(a)(1). The
court placed J.E.C. on probation for one year at home in the
custody of her mother. See Tex. Fam. Code §
54.04(d)(1)(A). On appeal, J.E.C. challenges the sufficiency
of the evidence supporting the court's finding that she
used a deadly weapon-i.e., her hands and feet-during the
commission of the offense. We will affirm the judgment of
J.E.C. engaged in a physical fight with D.A., a classmate who
lived in the same apartment complex, and J.E.C. was
adjudicated delinquent. At the adjudication hearing, the
court heard testimony from three witnesses: a detective who
investigated the incident, a probation officer who provided
J.E.C.'s date of birth, and D.A.
testified that on the evening of the fight, she was watching
television in her family's apartment when a neighbor
knocked on her door and told her that J.E.C. wanted to talk
to her. D.A. stated that she went to the courtyard area in
front of her first-floor apartment where she saw J.E.C.
walking toward her with several other people, some of whom
were videotaping the event. D.A. testified that J.E.C. said
someone told her that D.A. "was talking about
[J.E.C.]" and that "to get this over with we had to
fight, " and "it was going to be, you know, one
round." According to D.A., J.E.C. said her little
brother told her about D.A. asking him whether J.E.C. had
gone swimming with D.A.'s boyfriend. D.A. acknowledged
that this was not her first fight, that she was upset and
yelling, and that she said, "Whatever. I'm not going
to let nobody hit me." D.A. testified that J.E.C. threw
the first punch, D.A. "responded back, " and they
fought for two or three minutes.
stated that during the fight, J.E.C. hit D.A. with her fist,
took D.A. to the ground, and sat on top of D.A.'s chest
while punching her. D.A. testified that she was five or six
inches shorter than J.E.C. and acknowledged that she was
"at a great disadvantage" in the fight. D.A.
recalled asking J.E.C. to let her go and said that other
people yelled at J.E.C. to get off of D.A. but that J.E.C.
ignored them. D.A. stated that eventually, someone said that
they were going to call the police and that someone came and
took J.E.C. off of her. D.A. testified that as J.E.C. got up,
she stomped on D.A.'s face two or three times with her
shoes, and that D.A. lost consciousness. When D.A. regained
consciousness, her friend A.R., who witnessed the fight, was
there to help her up.
the fight, police responded to the scene, and D.A. went to
North Austin Medical Center. D.A. testified that she was
released after receiving treatment for pain and swelling and
that she was advised against sleeping because she could have
a concussion. Two days later, D.A. went to Dell
Children's Hospital because her neck felt
"sore" and "too heavy." Records from Dell
Children's Hospital admitted into evidence show that D.A.
was diagnosed with "Acute cervical myofascial strain;
Brain concussion; Chest wall contusion; Closed fracture nasal
bone; [and] Facial contusion." Those records attributed
D.A.'s injuries to an assault and stated that she
complained of face, neck, and back pain. Photographs of
D.A.'s face were admitted into evidence showing her black
eyes, bruises, and nose injury. D.A. testified that the
injuries depicted in the photos resulted from the fight.
acknowledged contacting an attorney before speaking with the
police, but she denied "making this story up because of
some lawsuit." When asked if J.E.C. was trying to kill
her, D.A. testified that she did not know why the fight
occurred and that there was no reason for it.
Police Department detective Nicole Gray testified that four
days after the fight, D.A.'s mother and D.A. came to
speak with her. Detective Gray stated that she opened an
investigation into D.A.'s case, requested her records
from Dell Children's Hospital, and reviewed the
responding police officer's offense report. Because the
medical records indicated that D.A. sustained a broken nose
and a concussion with loss of consciousness, Detective Gray
decided to charge the offense initially as an aggravated
assault with bodily injury. Detective Gray testified that
based on her training and experience as an APD officer, hands
and feet can be used as deadly weapons. She acknowledged that
she did not see the girls' fight and did not speak with
J.E.C. as part of the investigation.
conclusion of the trial, the juvenile court adjudicated
J.E.C. delinquent for committing aggravated assault with a
deadly weapon. The court found specifically that J.E.C.
caused bodily injury to D.A. and that J.E.C. used her hands
and feet as a deadly weapon. The court signed a judgment of
delinquency and a dispositional order of probation, placing
J.E.C. on probation for one year at home in the custody of
of the evidence
appeal, J.E.C. contends that the evidence was legally
insufficient to prove that her hands and feet were used as
deadly weapons. Adjudications of delinquency in juvenile
cases are based on the criminal standard of proof.
See Tex. Fam. Code § 54.03(f). We review
adjudications of delinquency in juvenile cases by applying
the same standards applicable to evidentiary sufficiency
challenges in criminal cases. See In re M.C.L., 110
S.W.3d 591, 594 (Tex. App.-Austin 2003, no pet.); see
also In re R.J., No. 03-14-00389-CV, 2015 Tex.App. LEXIS
11533, at *13 (Tex. App.-Austin Nov. 6, 2015, no pet.) (mem.
op.). We consider all of the evidence in the light most
favorable to the verdict and determine whether any rational
trier of fact could have found the elements of the offense
beyond a reasonable doubt. See In re M.C.L., 110
S.W.3d at 594 (citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S.
307, 319 (1979)). The trier of fact is the sole judge of the
weight and credibility of witness testimony, and thus, on
appeal we must give deference to the fact finder's
determinations. In re M.L.M., 459 S.W.3d 120, 126
(Tex. App.-El Paso 2015, no pet.) (citing Brooks v.
State, 323 S.W.3d 893, 899 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010)). If
the record contains conflicting facts, we must presume that
the fact finder resolved those facts in favor of the verdict
and defer to that resolution. Id. (citing