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Williams v. Williams

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

July 25, 2019


          On Appeal from the 300th District Court Brazoria County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 96783-F

          Panel consists of Justices Lloyd, Kelly, and Hightower.



         This is an appeal from a protective order granted by the trial court against appellant, Brian Williams. In his first two issues, Brian challenges the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence supporting the granting of the protective order. In his third issue, he contends that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion for new trial. We affirm.


         Brian and appellee, Shawntay Williams, were in a relationship for twenty-three years. They married in 2011. They have two daughters: Bresha who is fifteen years old and Talaya who is twelve.

         At the protective order hearing, Shawntay testified that Brian had been physically abusive to her throughout their relationship. In 1997 or 1998, Shawntay and Brian were arguing when Brian hit her in the jaw and choked her. Shawntay walked out of the house and called her aunt.

         Sometime in the early 2000s, Brian became upset while on the phone with Shawntay and came home. When Shawntay did not let him in, he broke a window, entered the house, and choked her. After Shawntay called the police, Brian was arrested and served time in county jail. Shawntay testified that Brian drinks and often becomes intoxicated, and she believes that he was intoxicated that evening.

         In 2015 or 2016, Brian became angry with Shawntay and choked her to the point where she could not breathe. She ran to a neighbor's house for help.

         In February 2016, Brian and Shawntay moved to Pearland with Bresha and Talaya. On one occasion, Brian and Shawntay got into a heated argument during which Brian grabbed her shirt. The police were called and told them that one of them should leave the house.

         On the night of October 13, 2017, Shawntay was asleep in the master bedroom when Brian came home intoxicated. Shawntay testified that Brian asked her if she wanted to eat and became upset when she answered no. When Shawntay told him to "lay down" and "sleep it off," he asked her if she was cheating on him. Shawntay again told him to go to sleep and that nobody was cheating on him. Brian closed the door, accused Shawntay of cheating, and told her that if he ever found out that she was cheating, he would kill her and whoever she was with. Shawntay testified that Brian then took a samurai sword from the corner of their bedroom, held it to her neck, and told her, "I could kill you right now if I wanted to." Brian told her that he would find her if she ever left him and that she better not take his kids. Shawntay testified that she was scared that he was going to hurt her. Brian then removed Shawntay's gun from the safe in their closet and, sitting behind her, cocked the gun and pointed it at her head. In an effort to keep him calm, Shawntay told him to go to bed. She then told Brian "[y]ou know that I'm afraid of you. I would never do anything like that to you." Brian then walked around the side of the bed and began choking Shawntay. When he stopped choking her, she jumped up and ran to the bedroom door. Brian blocked her exit, pushed her against the door, and tried to choke her again.

         Bresha heard the commotion and got in between her parents to separate them. Shawntay testified that Bresha told Brian, "[y]ou're hurting my mom." Brian went to the kitchen and asked the girls if they wanted something to eat. Shawntay called the Pearland Police Department and two officers arrived. They took statements from Shawntay, Brian, and Bresha, and Brian was arrested. Afterwards, Shawntay obtained a thirty-one day emergency protective order. Shawntay moved out of their Pearland home on October 28, 2017.

         During that time, Shawntay worked as a school bus driver with Pearland Independent School District. She testified that, on one occasion, while Shawntay was sitting in her car in the employee parking lot, Brian approached her and told her to get out of the car so he could speak to her. When she refused, he beat on the window several times and told her, "[o]kay. Watch. You will see. I'm going to kill you, Bitch." Shawntay called the police and Brian was arrested for violating the emergency protective order. She also testified that Brian would stand on her bus route and stare at her as she drove by. Brian also came to her place of work or her new residence several more times to try to intimidate her. Brian also sent a text message to Shawntay to let her know that he knew her apartment number, what side of the building her apartment was located, and what was on her balcony. On another occasion, Brian pulled up next to her while she was at a red light, made eye contact with her, and gestured as if holding a gun. Shawntay also testified that Brian texted her, calling her a bitch and telling her that he would kill her, and said things such as "If I go down, we all go down."

         Shawntay left her job with Pearland ISD after she was diagnosed with severe depression and had a nervous breakdown at work. She was unemployed at the time of trial. Shawntay testified that she feared Brian would continue threatening her without a protective order in place. She also testified that ...

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