BENE A. TAYLOR, Appellant
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee
Appeal from the County Criminal Court at Law No. 7 Harris
County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2100220
consists of Justices Wise, Jewell, and Bourliot.
FRANCES BOURLIOT JUSTICE.
three issues, appellant Bene A. Taylor appeals his DWI
conviction. He challenges (1) the sufficiency of the evidence
to support his conviction under the corpus delecti rule, (2)
the trial court's admission of evidence involving a
fatality accident at the scene, and (3) the enhancement of
appellant's conviction to a class A misdemeanor without a
prior DWI conviction. We conclude that (1) appellant's
conviction is supported by legally sufficient evidence, (2)
appellant did not preserve error on his evidentiary
challenge, and (3) the trial court properly instructed the
jury that it could find appellant guilty of a class A
misdemeanor if it found appellant's blood alcohol
concentration was .15 or more. We affirm.
car, a Volkswagen, stalled out on the Southwest Freeway in
Houston, Texas when appellant ran out of gas around 1:00 a.m.
Shortly thereafter, appellant was observed standing on a main
lane of the freeway next to the front door of the
Another driver subsequently rear ended the Volkswagen. A
wrecker truck arrived, and its driver had parked near the two
vehicles when the driver of a pickup truck struck the
wrecker. The pickup truck rolled over, the driver was
ejected, and he died on the scene.
Ciers assessed appellant for intoxication. He spoke with
appellant and observed "a strong odor of an alcoholic
beverage on his breath" and "slow, deliberate
speech," which led Ciers to conclude that it was
necessary to conduct field sobriety tests on appellant. Ciers
wore a body camera during his encounter with appellant on the
scene, which was admitted at trial without
objection. The body camera recorded the accident
scene, in addition to onsite field sobriety testing and
statements made by appellant. Appellant stated that he was
alone in his Volkswagen driving when he ran out of gas. He
admitted that he drank "about three" beers before
getting behind the wheel.
conducted the horizontal gaze nystagmus test on appellant and
observed six of six clues of intoxication. He then took
appellant to the police station for additional sobriety
testing. At the station, appellant again admitted to driving
the Volkswagen. He also stated that he began drinking around
9:30 p.m. and stopped around 12:30 a.m. Ciers conducted the
walk and turn and one leg stand tests. He did not observe any
signs of intoxication during those tests, but he again
conducted the HGN test on appellant and observed all six
clues. Appellant agreed to a breath test. Two tests were
given at 3:53 and 3:56 a.m., and they showed blood alcohol
concentrations of .169 and .170.
challenges (1) the sufficiency of the evidence to support his
conviction under the corpus delecti rule; (2) the trial
court's admission of evidence involving the truck
accident and death of the driver; and (3) the trial
court's submission of a jury charge instruction allowing
the jury to find appellant guilty of a class A misdemeanor
without a prior DWI conviction.
Evidence of Driving While Intoxicated Legally
argues in his second issue that his DWI conviction is not
supported by legally sufficient evidence under the corpus
delecti rule. He contends his extrajudicial statements to
police amount to the only evidence that he was driving the
Volkswagen while intoxicated. We disagree.
corpus delicti rule applies when there is an extrajudicial
confession to involvement in a crime. See Miller v.
State, 457 S.W.3d 919, 924 (Tex. Crim. App. 2015). Under
the rule, "a defendant's extrajudicial confession
does not constitute legally sufficient evidence of guilt
absent independent evidence." Id. The
rule's purpose is to ensure that a person will not be
convicted based solely on his own false confession to a crime
that never occurred. Id.
Court of Criminal Appeals has held that the Jackson v.
Virginia standard set forth by the Supreme Court is the
"only constitutional standard of review for assessing
the legal sufficiency of evidence in a criminal case."
Carrizales v. State, 414 S.W.3d 737, 742 (Tex. Crim.
App. 2013) (citing Jackson, 443 U.S. 307 (1979)).
Under that standard, we view the evidence in the light most
favorable to the verdict and determine whether any rational
factfinder could have found the essential elements of the
offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Id.