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Weems v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

April 26, 2018

WIDENER MICHAEL WEEMS, Appellant
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 239th District Court Brazoria County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 44301-1

          Panel consists of Justices Christopher, Donovan, and Jewell.

          OPINION

          John Donovan Justice.

         Pro se appellant Widener Michael Weems appeals the trial court's order denying his post-conviction motion for DNA testing. We affirm in part and dismiss in part.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         The factual background in this case was set forth by this Court on direct appeal as follows:

. . . H.P. Weems reported his father, Holmes Weems, missing. Shortly thereafter, investigators discovered Holmes Weems' vandalized and abandoned vehicle in a field. H.P. Weems gave investigators information that if anything bad had happened to his father, it would be at the hands of the Weems brothers, specifically appellant.[1] Thereafter, investigators questioned appellant's wife, Emily Weems. Mrs. Weems told investigators appellant and his brother were responsible for murdering her father. After receiving her statement, an investigator allegedly drew up a probable cause affidavit and obtained a warrant for appellant's arrest. Thereafter, appellant was arrested and brought to the Brazoria County Sheriff's Department. That night, after he received and waived his Miranda rights, appellant made a written confession and directed officers to the location of Holmes Weems' body. The next morning, appellant accompanied officers to the exact location of the body, and, upon his return to the Sheriff's office, gave a videotaped statement about his involvement in the murder.

Weems v. State, 167 S.W.3d 350, 354 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2005, pet. ref'd). A jury found appellant guilty of the offense of murder, and assessed punishment at life imprisonment. This Court affirmed appellant's conviction on direct appeal. Id. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused discretionary review, and the United States Supreme Court denied his petition for writ of certiorari. Weems v. Texas, 546 U.S. 1132 (2006).

         Over the next ten years, appellant filed numerous petitions for writ of habeas corpus, in federal and state courts, all of which were denied. On December 7, 2016, appellant filed a request for appointment of counsel for DNA testing on the "fireplace tool" pursuant to Chapter 64 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which was opposed by the State.[2] On December 20, 2016, the trial court denied appellant's request as follows:

On this day came to be heard the Defendant's Request for Appointment of Counsel for DNA Testing. The Court takes judicial notice of the Court's File. Having reviewed the record, the Defendant's Motion and the State's Reply, the Court Finds the Defendant has failed to show reasonable grounds for the appointment of counsel under Article 64.01(c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Court DENIES the Defendant's Request for Appointment of Counsel for DNA Testing.

         Appellant appealed the denial of his request to this Court, which we dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Weems v. State, No. 14-17-00021-CR, 2017 WL 1750129, at *1 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] May 4, 2017, no pet.) (citing Gutierrez v. State, 307 S.W.3d 318, 323 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010)).

         On April 5, 2017, appellant filed a motion for DNA testing, which was opposed by the State. On May 22, 2017, the trial court denied appellant's motion as follows:

On this day came to be heard the Applicant's Motion for DNA Testing. Having reviewed the Court's file and the affidavit and document submitted, the Court Finds that the Applicant has failed to meet his burden under Art. 64.03 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he would not have been convicted if exculpatory results had been obtained through the DNA ...

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