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Cadwell v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Sixth District, Texarkana

June 21, 2018

LARRY ANTONE CADWELL, Appellant
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

          Submitted Date: June 13, 2018

          On Appeal from the County Court at Law Rusk County, Texas Trial Court No. 16-11-0782CR

          Before Morriss, C.J., Moseley and Burgess, JJ.

          OPINION

          Josh R. Morriss, III Chief Justice

         While Larry Antone Cadwell-who goes by the name Tony and who will be so referenced in this opinion-and his estranged wife, Cheryl Cadwell, were involved in divorce proceedings, various horses belonging to them but having been ordered into Tony's custody lost weight, reportedly due to inadequate nutrition, according to Cheryl and other witnesses. This was particularly true of Diamond, an older horse that customarily had been ridden by Cheryl. This resulted in Tony's conviction for cruelty to livestock animals[1] and a sentence of 180 days in jail, a sentence which was probated to twenty-four months on condition that Tony serve thirty days in jail.

         On appeal, Tony argues the legal and factual[2] insufficiency of the evidence to support the element of intentional or knowing mens rea. He also asserts, as part of his legal-sufficiency challenge-making it a multifarious[3] point of error-that including the phrase "by neglect" in the information and in the jury charge improperly lowered the mens rea requirement.

         Because (1) legally sufficient evidence supports Tony's conviction and (2) the use of the phrase "by neglect" did not improperly reduce the State's burden to prove Tony's willful or knowing mens rea, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         (1) Legally Sufficient Evidence Supports Tony's Conviction

         In evaluating legal sufficiency of the evidence, we review all the evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court's judgment to determine whether any rational jury could have found the essential elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Brooks, 323 S.W.3d at 912 (citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979)); Hartsfield v. State, 305 S.W.3d 859, 863 (Tex. App.-Texarkana 2010, pet. ref'd). We examine legal sufficiency under the direction of the Brooks opinion, while deferring to the responsibility of the jury "to fairly resolve conflicts in testimony, to weigh the evidence, and to draw reasonable inferences from basic facts to ultimate facts." Hooper v. State, 214 S.W.3d 9, 13 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007) (citing Jackson, 443 U.S. at 318-19); Clayton v. State, 235 S.W.3d 772, 778 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007). Further, the jury is the sole judge of the credibility of the witnesses and the weight to be given their testimony and may "believe all of a witnesses' testimony, portions of it, or none of it." Thomas v. State, 444 S.W.3d 4, 10 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014).

         In our review, we consider "events occurring before, during[, ] and after the commission of the offense and may rely on actions of the defendant [that] show an understanding and common design to do the prohibited act." Hooper v. State, 214 S.W.3d 9, 13 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007) (quoting Cordova v. State, 698 S.W.2d 107, 111 (Tex. Crim. App. 1985)). It is not required that each fact "point directly and independently to the guilt of the appellant, as long as the cumulative force of all the incriminating circumstances is sufficient to support the conviction." Id. Circumstantial evidence and direct evidence can be equally probative in establishing the guilt of a defendant, and guilt can be established by circumstantial evidence alone. Ramsey v. State, 473 S.W.3d 805, 809 (Tex. Crim. App. 2015); Hooper, 214 S.W.3d at 13 (citing Guevara v. State, 152 S.W.3d 45, 49 (Tex. Crim. App. 2004)).

         Legal sufficiency of the evidence is measured by the elements of the offense as defined by a hypothetically correct jury charge. Malik v. State, 953 S.W.2d 234, 240 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997). The "hypothetically correct" jury charge is "one that accurately sets out the law, is authorized by the indictment, does not unnecessarily increase the State's burden of proof or unnecessarily restrict the State's theories of liability, and adequately describes the particular offense for which the defendant was tried." Id.

         Under the relevant statute and the information, to obtain a conviction for cruelty to livestock animals, the State had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Tony (1) intentionally or knowingly (2) failed unreasonably to provide (3) food, water, or care (4) for one or more livestock animals (5) in Tony's custody, where (6) Tony's

conduct was not a generally accepted and otherwise lawful form of conduct occurring solely for the purpose of or in support of fishing, hunting, or trapping; or wildlife or depredation control, or shooting preserve practices as regulated by state and federal law; or animal husbandry or agriculture practice involving livestock animals.

See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 42.09(a)(2), (f) (West 2016) (cruelty to livestock animals and exception to offense), § 2.02 (West 2001) (negating exception to offense as element of offense). Tony challenges the sufficiency of the evidence only as it relates to the ...


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