IN THE MATTER OF R.S. IV, A JUVENILE
Appeal from the Juvenile Court Taylor County, Texas Trial
Court Cause No. 5180-J
consists of: Bailey, C.J., Stretcher, J., and Wright, S.C.J.
WRIGHT, SENIOR CHIEF JUSTICE
an accelerated appeal from an order in which the juvenile
court waived its jurisdiction over R.S. IV (Appellant) and
transferred the cause to a criminal district court.
See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 54.02(j) (West 2014),
§ 56.01(c)(1)(A), (h), (h-1) (West Supp. 2018). In four
issues on appeal, Appellant challenges the juvenile
court's transfer order. We affirm.
juvenile court held a hearing on December 7, 2018, to address
the State's request for discretionary transfer. Appellant
was nineteen years old when the State filed its request for
discretionary transfer, and he was twenty years old at the
time of the hearing. The record from the hearing indicates
that the child complainant made her first outcry in early
2018, around the time of her fourteenth birthday, at which
time Appellant had already turned nineteen years old.
Appellant allegedly committed the first-degree felony offense
of aggravated sexual assault when he was fourteen to sixteen
years old. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. §
22.021(a)(1), (a)(2)(B), (e) (West 2019) (aggravated sexual
assault); see also Fam. § 54.02(j)(2)(B). The
record reflects that the charges at issue had not been
adjudicated at the time of the transfer hearing.
complainant's pastor testified that, while at a youth
retreat in early 2018, the complainant stated that she had
been sexually assaulted. The pastor then talked to the
complainant, and she told him that she had been sexually
assaulted for several years by Appellant. The complainant
told her pastor that she had never told anyone else about the
abuse. The pastor notified Waco police.
Jason Lundquist of the Waco Police Department testified about
the child's outcry against Appellant. According to
Sergeant Lundquist, the complainant indicated that Appellant,
who is the complainant's cousin, had sexually assaulted
her multiple times during a period of approximately three
years, beginning when she was six or seven years old and
Appellant was eleven or twelve years old. The allegations
were that Appellant had touched the complainant's vagina
and had also penetrated her vagina with his penis. The
complainant indicated that the abuse stopped when she was
"around" ten years old.
Hicks, assistant chief of the Tye Police Department,
testified that, when this case was referred to Tye, he
reviewed the information that came from the Waco Police
Department. According to Officer Hicks, the sexual assaults
allegedly began when the complainant was about six years old
and ended when she was about ten years old, at which time
Appellant would have been approximately sixteen years old.
Appellant was born in November 1998, and the complainant was
born in early 2004. Thus, Appellant is more than five years
older than the complainant. At the time of the alleged abuse,
Appellant and his mother lived at the Tye address given by
the complainant. Officer Hicks, whose children were friends
with Appellant and Appellant's sister, had seen the
complainant at that address in the past.
presented one witness. That witness was a friend of
Appellant's who testified that Appellant had moved to
Merkel when he was twelve years old.
specifically argues in his first issue that the evidence was
legally and factually insufficient to prove by a
preponderance of the evidence that he was fourteen years of
age or older at the time of the alleged offense. In his
second issue, Appellant challenges the legal and factual
sufficiency of the evidence with respect to a finding under
Section 54.02(f)(4), regarding the prospects of
rehabilitation and protection of the public. In his third
issue, Appellant asserts that the evidence is legally and
factually insufficient to prove by a preponderance of the
evidence that he committed the alleged offense. In his fourth
issue, Appellant argues that the juvenile court abused its
discretion by certifying Appellant as an adult and waiving
its exclusive jurisdiction in this matter.
appeal from an order in which a juvenile court waives its
jurisdiction and enters a discretionary transfer order, an
appellate court applies an abuse-of-discretion standard of
review to the juvenile court's decision to transfer.
In re S.G.R., 496 S.W.3d 235, 239 (Tex. App.-Houston
[1st Dist.] 2016, no pet.) (citing Moon v. State,
451 S.W.3d 28, 47 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014)). The juvenile
court's findings may be reviewed under the traditional
civil standards for sufficiency of the evidence.
Moon, 451 S.W.3d at 47; S.G.R., 496 S.W.3d
at 239. To review the legal sufficiency of the evidence in
support of a finding, we review the record-crediting evidence
favorable to the finding and disregarding contrary evidence
unless a reasonable factfinder could not reject the evidence.
In re J.G., 495 S.W.3d 354, 370 (Tex. App.-Houston
[1st Dist.] 2016, pet. denied); see City of Keller v.
Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 827 (Tex. 2005). To review the
factual sufficiency of the evidence in support of a finding,
we consider and weigh all the evidence in a neutral light and
will set aside the finding only if the evidence is so weak or
the finding is so against the great weight and preponderance
of the evidence that it is clearly wrong and unjust. See
Pool v. Ford Motor Co., 715 S.W.2d 629, 635 (Tex. 1986);
J.G., 495 S.W.3d at 370.
the State moved for transfer pursuant to Section 54.02(j).
Section 54.02(j) sets out the requirements for the
discretionary transfer of a person who was a juvenile at the
time of the alleged offense but has turned eighteen prior to
being adjudicated as a juvenile. Section 54.02(j) provides in
relevant part that a juvenile court may waive its
jurisdiction and transfer a person to a district court for
criminal proceedings if:
(1) the person is 18 years of age or ...