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In re D.L.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

January 18, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF D.L., Appellant

         On Appeal from the 313th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2016-03439J

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Boyce and Jewell.

          OPINION

          KEVIN JEWELL JUSTICE.

         A jury found that appellant, D.L., then a minor, committed the offense of criminal trespass of a motor vehicle. The trial court signed a judgment adjudicating D.L. delinquent. D.L. appeals, arguing that no legally sufficient evidence establishes that he had notice that entry into the vehicle was forbidden. We agree, and therefore reverse the trial court's judgment and dismiss with prejudice the State's petition for adjudication of delinquency.

         Background

         The Harris County District Attorney filed a petition in juvenile court seeking an adjudication of delinquency. The State alleged that D.L., a minor at the time, had engaged in delinquent conduct. Specifically, the State alleged that D.L. had committed the offenses of (1) criminal trespass of a motor vehicle while carrying a deadly weapon and (2) unlawful possession of a firearm. D.L. pleaded "not true" to both allegations, and the case proceeded to a jury trial.

         Sebastian Lezama owned the vehicle in question. Lezama parked his truck outside his apartment one afternoon and went inside, leaving the keys in the truck and the truck unlocked. A few minutes later, Lezama heard a noise outside and, upon investigating, saw someone driving his truck away. He could not identify the driver or describe any identifying features of the driver.

         Approximately twelve hours later, at around 4:00 a.m., Houston Police Officer Derrick Dexter and his partner, Officer Julio Flores, attempted to order coffee at a McDonald's restaurant drive-through lane. Because no employee responded over the speaker, Officer Dexter suspected something might be amiss inside the restaurant. The officers drove around the side of the restaurant and stopped next to a green truck, which was idling at the drive-through window. Three males occupied the truck, and all of them appeared to be minors. D.L. sat in the front passenger seat. According to Officer Dexter, the individuals in the truck "looked over at [the officers] and their eyes got like deer in headlights . . . like, you know, caught red-handed." Because the youths were violating Houston's midnight curfew, Officer Flores ran a computer check on the truck's license plate. The search results indicated that the truck was Lezama's and had been reported stolen.

         The truck left the restaurant's parking lot. The officers followed and engaged the patrol car's overhead lights and sirens. At that point, the truck began speeding. The truck entered an apartment complex. The police pursued the truck through the complex at speeds up to sixty miles per hour for four to six minutes. The truck eventually hit a transformer and stopped. All three youths fled the truck. The police officers apprehended D.L., but failed to apprehend the other two youths.

         After placing D.L. in the patrol car's back seat, Officer Flores searched the truck. He found a pistol between the driver's seat and passenger seat and a loaded shotgun near "where one of the passengers was sitting." Officer Flores did not specify whether he found the shotgun in the front or back seat. Officer Flores testified over objection that a records search revealed that the guns had been reported stolen.

         When the truck was returned to Lezama, he discovered it had been damaged, costing him $1, 000 in repairs.

         The jury found that D.L. did not commit the weapons possession offense, but found that D.L. committed the offense of trespass of a motor vehicle. The trial court placed D.L. on probation and imposed a $1, 000 fine in restitution.

         D.L. ...


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