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Campbell v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

May 31, 2018


          On Appeal from the 122nd District Court Galveston County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 16CR0708

          Panel consists of Frost Chief Justice and Busby and Wise. Justices


          Kem Thompson Frost Chief Justice

         Appellant Craig Michael Campbell challenges his conviction for deadly conduct, asserting that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (2) the trial court violated his right to compulsory process, and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in excluding evidence of a witness's prior inconsistent statement. Finding no reversible error, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         A motorist on her way to work saw the complainant, a woman, running diagonally across the intersection in front of the motorist's car. To the motorist, the complainant appeared to be running away from something. A few seconds later, the motorist saw a gray car come across the intersection. As the car approached, the complainant ran to a gas station on the side of the road. The car followed the complainant, tailing closely behind her and traveling at such a high rate of speed that the car went airborne for a few seconds as it hit the curb and entered the gas station. The complainant ran around the gas station, which appeared closed, attempting to stay near the building as the man at the wheel used the car to chase her, almost hitting the building. At one point, the complainant ran back out to the road and screamed "help me!" at the occupants of a car stopped at the intersection.

         Believing the complainant's life to be in danger, the motorist who had been watching the events unfold pulled into the gas station and called the police. The motorist later testified at trial that she made eye contact with the driver who was chasing the complainant. The man could tell the motorist was calling police and he left. After the man left, the motorist told the complainant that the police were coming and the complainant seemed to be relieved.

         When the police officer responded to the scene, he made contact with the complainant, who appeared to be very shaken up. She was struggling to catch her breath. The complainant told the police officer that the man who had chased her with his car was appellant. A second eye-witness noticed the police officer at the gas station as he returned from his trip. The second eye-witness stopped and told the police officer that he had seen the complainant exit a car and run across the intersection and relayed that the driver of the car was following the complainant around the gas station at a high rate of speed. The second eye-witness testified that he did not stop initially due to concern for his personal safety. According to the second eye-witness, the complainant was "frantic to get away."

         Appellant was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The court set a trial date.

         Appellant filed a motion to continue the trial, asserting that appellant recently had retained counsel and the new counsel had to cover another trial. The State opposed the motion for continuance because the complainant, who at the time was incarcerated, was due to get out of jail about two weeks after the trial setting, and the State believed the complainant would not appear for trial if the complainant were released from jail before the case could be tried. The trial court granted appellant's motion for continuance. The complainant was served with a subpoena compelling her attendance at the new trial date and the complainant swore she would appear.

         Trial Testimony

         Both appellant and the State waived their right to a jury trial and tried the case to the bench. At trial, both eye-witnesses and the police officer testified about the events they had witnessed. Appellant testified that the complainant and appellant were dating and the complainant lived with appellant. According to appellant, the complainant had a history of drug abuse, and appellant was trying to help her "stay clean." Appellant explained that the complainant was doing well until a week before the incident, when the complainant overdosed on an over-the-counter medication. The police were called to appellant's house and the complainant received medical treatment. After her release from the hospital, the complainant came to appellant's house for two days and then left to "go party." Two days later, the complainant called appellant early in the morning, and appellant drove to pick her up.

         Appellant testified that when he picked up the complainant, he smelled alcohol and the complainant admitted she had been using drugs. Appellant testified that he was mad, upset because the complainant had relapsed. According to appellant, he was taking the complainant back home when the complainant kicked him in the head and ran from the car. Appellant testified that he followed her in the car with the intention of getting her back into the car to take her home. Appellant admitted driving erratically, but testified that he was not trying to hurt the complainant. Appellant pointed out that he had several opportunities to hit the complainant with the vehicle, such as when she slipped and fell, but that he did not hurt her or intend to hurt her. Appellant testified that the complainant came back to his home later that night and he took photographs with her for his protection because she informed him that there was a warrant for his arrest based on the incident at the gas station.

         The complainant's mother testified that the complainant suffers from bipolar disorder and that the complainant acted "crazy" when she was in a manic phase. The complainant's mother described appellant as even keeled, always affirming and positive. She stated that appellant gave the complainant lots of love. The complainant's mother testified that appellant helped the complainant's parents in their efforts to treat the complainant's drug addictions. According to the complainant's mother, the complainant came to the mother's house later on the date of the incident, and the complainant told the mother that she had not told the truth to the police officers who responded to the incident at the gas station. The complainant's mother said the complainant is not always truthful. The complainant's father echoed the testimony of the complainant's mother, describing appellant as a positive influence in the complainant's life.

         An acquaintance of both appellant and the complainant testified that in her observations, appellant and the complainant acted like "love birds." The acquaintance was not aware of any violence between the two.

         Request for Writ of Attachment

         The morning of trial the prosecutor sent an investigator to secure the complainant's presence at trial. The investigator drove to several addresses but could not find the complainant. The State asked for a writ of attachment to secure the complainant's presence at trial, and appellant joined the State's request.

         An investigator working for the District Attorney's Office gave an account of his attempts to locate the complainant, testifying that he drove to several addresses, but did not find the complainant. Defense counsel said he thought the address for the complainant's mother's home - one location the investigator went to look for the complainant - was incorrect. Defense counsel stated that the mother was coming to court the next day and suggested that the trial court hold off on putting an address on the writ of attachment until the mother came and provided the correct address.

         The next morning the trial court informed the parties that it had signed a writ of attachment the day before, after the defense counsel left. The trial judge stated that the State presented a writ and the State and trial judge attempted to call defense counsel, and that defense counsel's voicemail was full. The trial judge said the clerk's office contacted the judge and told the judge that the clerk's office could not execute the writ because the writ did not contain a bond amount. The prosecutor communicated that the State's investigator drove to all of the known addresses and spoke to the complainant's mother at the complainant's mother's home. The complainant's mother indicated that she had not heard from the complainant since the complainant was released from jail. The investigator testified that he did not know where to find the complainant and had no further ideas about where to search for her. Neither the State nor appellant requested additional relief that morning.

         Appellant continued presenting his case and then rested subject to a request that the trial court continue the case based on the writ of attachment. The trial court reminded appellant that no writ of attachment had issued. Appellant then requested a writ of attachment properly be executed and requested a continuance so that appellant might have time to request a ...

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