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Fulton v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

July 31, 2019

Edward Earldonte FULTON, Appellant
v.
The STATE of Texas, Appellee

          From the 144th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2017CR12590 Honorable Lorina I. Rummel, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice Irene Rios, Justice

          OPINION

          PATRICIA O. ALVAREZ, JUSTICE

         Appellant Edward Earldonte Fulton was convicted of evading arrest with a vehicle and pled true to two enhancement paragraphs. On June 28, 2018, the trial court assessed punishment at twenty-five years' confinement in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. In his sole issue on appeal, Fulton contends the irreconcilable sentencing provisions within Texas Penal Code section 38.04 should limit Fulton's maximum sentence to twenty years' confinement. Because reconciling the 2011 Legislature's provisions within section 38.04 is well settled, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Shortly after midnight on July 28, 2017, San Antonio Police Officer Hugo Hernandez, and his partner, Officer Sergio Villanueva, initiated a traffic stop of a tan Suburban being driven by Fulton, the sole occupant of the vehicle. Officer Hernandez approached the driver's door; when Fulton failed to timely produce identification, Officer Hernandez reached inside the vehicle through the window, unlocked the doors, and ordered Fulton to exit the vehicle. Fulton began to comply, but then pulled the door shut and sped away. The officers' attempt to catch up to Fulton was unsuccessful.

         San Antonio police officers located the vehicle later that same night. Based on the information found in the vehicle, officers connected Fulton to the vehicle. Officer Hernandez immediately identified Fulton, from a mugshot, as the individual that previously evaded arrest. Fulton was subsequently charged by indictment with felony evading arrest with a vehicle; the indictment included two enhancement paragraphs pertaining to punishment.

         On June 28, 2018, a Bexar County jury found Fulton guilty. Fulton elected to proceed with sentencing before the trial court. After pleading true to both enhancement paragraphs, the trial court sentenced Fulton, as a habitual offender, to twenty-five years' confinement in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

         On appeal, Fulton contends the multiple sentencing provisions in Texas Penal Code section 38.04 are irreconcilable. He argues that his substantial rights were violated because he was sentenced outside the permissible sentencing range.

         Texas Penal Code Section 38.04

         A. Standard of Review

         When deciding issues related to statutory construction, appellate courts apply a de novo standard of review. Sims v. State, 569 S.W.3d 634, 640 (Tex. Crim. App. 2019). In doing so, we "seek to effectuate the 'collective' intent or purpose of the legislators who enacted the legislation." Id. (quoting Boykin v. State, 818 S.W.2d 782, 785 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991)).

         B. Arguments of the Parties

         Fulton contends the sentencing provisions within Texas Penal Code section 38.04 are irreconcilable and he should have received no more than twenty years' confinement in the Texas Department ...


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