Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
THE 355TH DISTRICT COURT OF HOOD COUNTY TRIAL COURT NO.
SUDDERTH, C.J.; KERR and PITTMAN, JJ.
SUDDERTH, CHIEF JUSTICE
single issue, Appellant Tommy George Dooley appeals his
conviction for capital murder. Tex. Penal Code Ann. §
19.03(a)(2) (West Supp. 2017). We affirm.
shot and killed his wife, LaVera, on February 12, 2015. He
shot her six times while she was sitting in her SUV in their
driveway and on the phone with 911. LaVera died while she was
still on the phone with 911.
interview that evening with Investigator Robert Young,
Appellant explained the tumultuous relationship he and LaVera
shared. They had been married just over three years. During
that time, they had worked together in an insurance business
that LaVera owned, but had been struggling financially and
often argued over money. The couple had discussed divorce as
a possibility, and according to Appellant, he had been in the
process of moving out of their home at the time of the
described LaVera, who was his fourth wife, as verbally and
emotionally abusive toward him, claiming that LaVera would
"get in [his] f***ing face" all the time when they
argued, which was often, "beat down" on him, and
according to Appellant, "[s]he just wouldn't f***ing
leave [him] alone." Appellant told Young that he could
not take it anymore.
had called 911 on one prior occasion, and when they began to
argue again earlier in the evening of LaVera's death,
Appellant said that LaVera went outside and threatened to
call 911 again. Appellant told Young, "I asked her to
get out of the g**d*** car, she wouldn't get out of the
g**d*** car, I went into the house, I got the gun, I went
back and I shot her. I guess I shot her six times because the
gun was empty."
made multiple statements along these lines. At one point he
said he told LaVera, "Open the window, let's talk,
" but LaVera replied, "I'm talking to 911,
" and then he shot her. At another point, he explained
that he said, "Come here, let's talk, " and she
said, "I've got 911, I'm calling the police on
you again, " and Appellant thought, "Well, this is
it, I'm f***ed." Yet another time he explained,
"[S]he [went] and got in her g**d*** Mercedes and [said]
'I'm calling 911.' When you push somebody so
much, then-well" and, "she just decided that she
was going to go out and call the g**d*** police on me
again." Appellant said that after he shot her initially,
LaVera screamed to the 911 operator, "He shot me! He
shot me!" so he shot her again. At another point, he
told Investigator Young that he shot her "because she
[was] f***ing mean."
also explained to Young that he was concerned she would
report him for domestic abuse. Although he strenuously denied
ever hitting or otherwise physically abusing LaVera, he was
worried that domestic abuse charges could place his license
to sell insurance at risk.
was charged with capital murder for killing LaVera in
retaliation for or to obstruct her from calling 911 and
reporting him to the police. See id. (providing
elements of capital murder), § 36.06 (West 2016)
(providing that a person commits an offense if he harms
another by an unlawful act in retaliation for or to prevent
their reporting of a crime).
trial, Appellant only contested whether he shot LaVera in
retaliation or obstruction of her call to 911. To support his
defensive theory, Appellant offered the testimony of Dr.
Brian Falls, a forensic psychiatrist who met with Appellant
once about a year after the murder. The State challenged the
admissibility of Dr. Falls's testimony, and at a pretrial
hearing, Dr. Falls explained his opinion.
Falls testified that, after meeting with Appellant for
approximately five hours, he diagnosed Appellant with severe
alcohol use disorder, general personality disorder, and a
depressive disorder. Dr. Falls also testified that based on
his review of a dozen or perhaps "a few dozen"
peer-reviewed journals and literature from the Food and Drug
Administration, Appellant's use of the drug Chantix, a
smoking-cessation aid, was "one of several contributing
factors" that caused Appellant to kill his wife.
According to Dr. Falls, medical literature reported that
Chantix had ...