Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
Appeal from the County Court at Law Cooke County, Texas Trial
Court No. JV838-18
Sudderth, C.J.; Gabriel and Kerr, JJ. Memorandum Opinion by
an appeal from the juvenile court's order transferring
appellant E.O. (Evan) to an appropriate criminal court to be
tried as an adult. In a single issue, Evan argues the
juvenile court's decision to transfer him was an abuse of
discretion. We disagree and thus affirm.
evidence presented at the November 27, 2018 transfer hearing
consisted of the testimony of several witnesses as well as
several documentary and media exhibits. The evidence
developed during the hearing revealed the following.
approximately 6:30 a.m. on February 6, 2018, Joseph reported
to the Cooke County Sheriff's Department that his
five-year-old daughter, Madison, was missing from her home.
She had last been seen the previous evening asleep in her
bed. The Sheriff's Department began an investigation and
conducted an exhaustive search for Madison but was unable to
locate her. Sheriff's Department investigators sought
assistance from the Texas Rangers, and Rangers James Holland
and Jeremy Wallace responded to the scene.
at approximately 10:15 a.m., several investigators from the
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)
arrived on scene, which by that time was filled with
personnel from the Sheriff's Department, some of whom
were interviewing the several individuals who occupied
Madison's home. One of the DFPS investigators, Jason
Foutch, was asked to assist the Sheriff's Department with
those interviews but was prevented from doing so because the
scene was still being processed. At approximately 12:00 p.m.,
after the Sheriff's Department had finished processing
the scene, Foutch and the other DFPS investigators entered
the home and began interviewing the residents inside, one of
whom was Evan. Those interviews eventually led DFPS
investigators to conduct their own search for Madison. Evan
was involved in that additional search, and at his direction,
the search team found Madison underneath a trailer that was
two lots to the north of the one where she lived.
stated that it had been cold the day Madison was found,
stating that the temperature "was in the twenties."
When the search party discovered Madison, she was facedown
under the trailer, was wearing a pink nightgown, was wet, and
was in shock. There was also a plastic garbage bag wrapped
around her. Foutch stated that when members of the search
party got Madison out from underneath the trailer, he did not
know whether she was alive or dead. Other individuals
involved in the investigation noticed that Madison had a
"chemical smell" such as bleach or some other
solvent emanating from her person.
underwent an evaluation by a sexual assault nurse examiner
(SANE), who testified at the hearing by affidavit. The SANE
averred that Madison's evaluation revealed that she had
suffered acute hymenal tearing and vaginal tearing, and that
those areas were actively bleeding at the time of the exam.
The SANE further said that she had observed evidence of
hemorrhage in Madison's eyes, bruising at various
locations on her body, and red linear marks on Madison's
neck. The SANE concluded that Madison had been sexually
abused and had suffered serious bodily injury as a result of
a sexual assault.
testifying by affidavit was a pediatric neurologist who
treated Madison in the weeks after the assault. The
neurologist averred that in the course of treating Madison,
he determined that she had suffered significant neurological
injuries as a result of a severe beating of both sides of her
head and strangulation. The neurologist stated that Madison
suffered seizures throughout her stay in the hospital and
that her motor and cognitive abilities were severely impaired
because of the injuries she had sustained.
Madison was found, Ranger Holland interviewed Evan and
noticed what appeared to be bleach stains on his pants.
Ranger Holland also smelled an odor of what he called a
"Pine Sol type substance" emanating from Evan.
During the interview, Evan stated that around 5:00 a.m., he
went into Madison's bedroom, picked her up, and put a
blanket over her head so that she could not see him. Evan
said that he carried Madison to the residence next door,
which he knew was unlocked. He then took her into the master
bedroom, laid her on the couch, and inserted his penis into
her vagina. Evan said that Madison was fighting and screaming
and that he held her hands down. Evan stated that he did not
speak to Madison during the assault
stated that he stopped penetration after several minutes.
Madison would not stop crying, so Evan punched her in the
back of the head, which rendered her unconscious. Evan said
that he then used water to clean her vagina, carried her to
the abandoned trailer where she was found, placed her
underneath it with her pink blanket, and left her there while
she was still unconscious. Subsequent DNA testing revealed
that the fly of Evan's underwear contained Madison's
DNA along with Evan's semen.
State filed a petition in the juvenile court alleging that on
or about February 5, 2018, Evan, who was fourteen years old
at the time, had committed an aggravated sexual assault of a
child younger than six years of age; had committed aggravated
kidnapping; and had attempted to commit capital murder. The
State filed a motion asking the juvenile court to waive its
exclusive jurisdiction over Evan and to transfer him to an
appropriate criminal court to be tried as an adult.
See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 54.02(a). Following a
hearing, the juvenile court granted the motion and signed an
order transferring Evan to the appropriate criminal court.
Evan now appeals. See id. § 56.01(c)(1)(A)
(permitting immediate appeal from an order transferring a
juvenile for prosecution as an adult).
juvenile courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over all
proceedings involving persons accused of committing a felony
offense between their tenth and seventeenth birthdays.
See Tex. Fam. Code. Ann. §§ 51.02(2),
51.03(a)(1), 51.04(a); Moon v. State, 451 S.W.3d 28,
37-38 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014). In certain situations, however,
a juvenile court has discretion to waive that jurisdiction
and transfer child felony offenders to the appropriate
district court or criminal district court for criminal
proceedings. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
54.02(a); Moon, 451 S.W.3d at 38. As applicable to
this case, a juvenile court may exercise that discretion if
it finds that
(1) the child is alleged to have violated a penal law of the
grade of felony;
(2) the child was:
(A) 14 years of age or older at the time [of the alleged
offense], if the offense is a capital felony . . . or a
felony of the first degree, and no adjudication hearing has
been conducted concerning that offense; or
(B). . .; and
(3) after a full investigation and a hearing, [it] determines
that there is probable cause to believe that the child before
the court committed the offense alleged and that because of
the seriousness of the offense alleged or the background of
the child the welfare of the community requires criminal
See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 54.02(a);
Moon, 451 S.W.3d at 38.
In making these findings, the juvenile court must consider,
among other matters,
(1) whether the alleged offense was against person or
property, with greater weight in favor of transfer given to
offenses against the person;
(2) the sophistication and maturity of the child;
(3) the record and previous history of the child; and
(4) the prospects of adequate protection of the public and
the likelihood of the rehabilitation of the child by use of
procedures, services, and facilities ...