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In re L.R.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin

December 21, 2017

In the Matter of L.R., Jr.

         FROM THE COUNTY COURT AT LAW NO. 3 OF BELL COUNTY, NO. 83, 392, HONORABLE REBECCA DEPEW, JUDGE PRESIDING

          Before Chief Justice Rose, Justices Field and Bourland

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CINDY OLSON BOURLAND, JUSTICE

         L.R., a juvenile, was found to have engaged in delinquent conduct based upon his commission of burglary and possession of a prohibited weapon. L.R. challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the delinquency finding that he committed burglary. For the following reasons, we will affirm the judgment of the juvenile court.

         BACKGROUND

         Elizabeth Lopez testified that on October 16, 2015, she left her home around 11:00 a.m. and returned between 1:00 and 1:30 p.m. to find that her home had been burglarized. The back door had been forced open, and several items had been stolen. She immediately reported the burglary to the police. She also notified her landlord, William Woods, who lived next door to her and her husband, Gilbert Lopez.

         Woods testified that he had previously affixed a hidden camera to a dumpster located in an alley directly behind the Lopezes' home. He described it as a motion-activated "deer camera" that did not record video but that, when triggered by motion, would take three successive photographs. Woods retrieved photographs taken during the timeframe of the burglary, which were introduced at trial. The only photographs taken during that timeframe were time-stamped 11:50 a.m. and depicted three young men in the alley. Mr. Lopez testified that he showed the photographs to neighbors, who identified two of the individuals as L.R. and his brother, A.R. Police interviewed L.R.'s mother, who confirmed L.R.'s and A.R.'s identities in the photographs.

         In the photographs, A.R. and the third individual (who was never identified) were visibly carrying items that matched the description of those stolen from the Lopezes' home. L.R. was carrying an article of clothing in a manner that an investigating officer testified was consistent with concealing and transporting small items. Mr. Lopez testified that, later that day, he discovered various items that had been stolen from his home in a dumpster behind the residence in which L.R. and A.R. lived, which was approximately two blocks from the Lopez residence. Those items included wallets and identification belonging to Mr. Lopez, and photographs of those items in the dumpster were admitted into evidence.

         In two counts, L.R. was charged by petition with engaging in delinquent conduct by committing the offenses of burglary of a habitation and possession of a prohibited weapon.[1] L.R. and his counsel waived a jury trial. L.R. entered a plea of true to the prohibited-weapon allegation and a plea of not true to the burglary allegation. At the conclusion of the adjudication hearing, the juvenile court found both counts true and placed L.R. on two years' probation. L.R. appealed.

         DISCUSSION

         In one issue, L.R. contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the adjudication for delinquent conduct based on the commission of the offense of burglary.

         I. Standard of Review

         We review adjudications of delinquency in juvenile cases by applying the same standards applicable to evidence-sufficiency challenges in criminal cases. See Tex. Fam. Code § 54.03(f); In re M.C.L., 110 S.W.3d 591, 594 (Tex. App.-Austin 2003, no pet.). We view all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and determine whether any rational fact finder could have found the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Whatley v. State, 445 S.W.3d 159, 165 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014) (citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979)). The fact finder is the sole judge of the weight and credibility of witness testimony. Id. We presume that the fact finder resolved any conflicting inferences in favor of the verdict. Id. Circumstantial evidence is as probative as direct evidence in establishing the guilt of the actor and can be sufficient to establish guilt. Carrizales v. State, 414 S.W.3d 737, 742 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013).

         II. The evidence supports the adjudication of ...


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