Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
Appeal from the 323rd District Court Tarrant County, Texas
Trial Court No. 323-107645-18
Sudderth, C.J.; Birdwell and Womack, JJ. Memorandum Opinion
by Justice Womack
adjudicated A.M. delinquent after finding that she had
engaged in delinquent conduct by committing the offense of
murder when she stabbed and caused the death of
The jury found that A.M. was in need of rehabilitation or
that the protection of the public or A.M. required a
disposition and did not find that A.M. had caused the death
of N.L. under the immediate influence of sudden passion
arising from an adequate cause. The jury sentenced A.M. to
commitment for twenty-five years. The juvenile court
adjudicated A.M. delinquent and sentenced her to commitment
in accordance with the jury's disposition. The juvenile
court also made an affirmative finding that A.M. had used or
exhibited a deadly weapon, a knife, during the commission of
the offense or during the immediate flight therefrom.
single issue, A.M. appeals the juvenile court's denial of
her request that the jury be charged on the lesser-included
offense of manslaughter. We will affirm the juvenile
court's judgment and commitment.
events involve four girls. At the time of trial, S.B and J.D.
were fourteen years old. On May 28, 2018, S.B., J.D., and
A.M. went to N.L.'s house and planned to spend the night
with her. A.M., N.L., and J.D. lived near each other, and it
was a one-to two-minute walk between A.M.'s and
in the day, the girls went swimming in Fort Worth and
returned to N.L.'s apartment where they listened to music
and danced. In the evening, A.M. and N.L. had a petty
argument. J.D. went home with A.M., and later they went to a
nearby store for A.M.'s mother. During that time, S.B.
and N.L. continued dancing and listening to music at
N.L.'s apartment. A.M. and N.L. messaged each other, and
S.B. observed that N.L. appeared to be angry.
delivering groceries to her mother, A.M. and J.D. walked back
to N.L.'s house for the purpose of retrieving A.M.'s
clothes. J.D. stayed outside. A.M. was angry when she left
N.L.'s apartment. She slammed the door as she left and
declared to J.D. that she was going to fight N.L. J.D. and
A.M. walked back to A.M.'s apartment and arrived after
midnight. J.D. tried to sleep, but A.M. was angry and
continued using her phone to message someone. A.M. eventually
told J.D. to get up and stated that N.L. was coming over.
A.M. and J.D. began waiting outside A.M.'s apartment at
about 2:30 a.m.
N.L. informed S.B. that she had to exchange some clothes with
A.M., they walked to A.M.'s apartment and arrived at
about 3:00 a.m. A.M. walked up to N.L. S.B. was worried, and
J.D. stayed on the sidewalk. According to S.B., N.L. handed
A.M.'s bag of clothes to her. A.M. set the bag on the
ground behind her and threw a bag of N.L.'s clothes at
N.L.'s feet. S.B. observed that when N.L. attempted to
pick up the bag, A.M. "ran up on her and hit
[N.L.]" about her face. N.L. started to fight back. J.D.
did not recall who started the fight. The two girls fought
for about two minutes before S.B. and J.D. broke up the fight
and pulled A.M. and N.L. off each other.
and N.L. remained angry and cussed at each other after the
fight. J.D. told N.L. to go home. S.B. thought A.M. had
finished fighting, but as A.M. walked back to her apartment,
S.B heard A.M. say, "I'm going to kill this
bitch." S.B. did not think A.M. was serious. As she and
N.L. began to walk away, N.L. returned to retrieve her
blanket from J.D. J.D. had stayed outside because she was
worried about N.L. She returned the blanket to N.L. but then
told S.B. and N.L. to run. S.B. saw A.M. running with a
kitchen knife. J.D. was worried that A.M. was going to hurt
N.L. J.D. struggled with A.M. for about thirty seconds and
attempted to grab the knife from A.M.'s hand or make A.M.
drop the knife. A.M. said, "Let go," began swinging
the knife, and got away. During this time, J.D. heard N.L.
say, "Let her kill me," "Let her stab me. I
want to die any ways [sic]," and N.L. did not appear to
be afraid. J.D., who was scared that A.M. was going to try to
hurt her too, backed up and told S.B. and N.L. to run. S.B.
also told N.L. to run. Although N.L. ran, she tripped over
the curb. S.B. saw N.L. fall and saw A.M. stab N.L. in the
neck. J.D. saw A.M. walk up to N.L., heard N.L scream,
"[My] neck," and then saw blood. J.D. admitted
that she had seen A.M. walk up to N.L. but had not seen the
stabbing and explained that she had guessed that A.M. had
stabbed N.L. According to S.B., when A.M. went to stab N.L.,
A.M. did not trip, was not playing around, joking, or trying
to scare N.L. S.B. testified, "It was intentional."
J.D. stated that A.M. was the only person with a knife and
declared that A.M.'s act of stabbing was no accident,
"[b]ecause the way she walked up on [N.L.], that's
not no accident."
ran over to N.L., took her hand, and stood her up, but A.M.
returned to her apartment. J.D. and some boys who were
walking from the grocery store tried to help N.L., and one of
the boys ran to alert police. J.D. did not know where A.M.
was at the time. S.B. ran to A.M.'s house and told
A.M.'s mother to get a towel because N.L. had been
stabbed. A.M.'s mother came outside with a towel, placed
it around N.L.'s neck, and attempted cardiopulmonary
and J.D. ran to N.L.'s apartment to get her older
brother, K.J. S.B. observed that A.M. followed them for a
while but then noticed that A.M. ran to another location.
While A.M. was following them, J.D. heard A.M. tell them
"not to tell nobody." J.D. did not know where A.M.
S.B. and J.D. returned, emergency personnel were placing N.L.
in an ambulance. S.B. later learned that N.L. had died. N.L.
was fourteen years old at the time of her death.
was not present when detectives first arrived at her
apartment, but her mother and stepfather were. A.M.'s
stepfather eventually brought A.M. to the police station
where she was interviewed. After the interview, A.M. took
police to the location where she had deposited the knife.
Police located the twelve-inch knife, which had a seven and
one-half inch blade, with a blanket on the patio of a vacant
apartment 235 feet away from the area where the incident
occurred. Testing confirmed the presence of N.L.'s DNA on
the knife handle and blade. Based on his training and
experience, Detective Matthew Barron opined that a knife like
the one that was recovered could be a deadly weapon in the
manner of its use or intended use and that the knife was a
deadly weapon in this case.
medical examiner Marc Krouse performed N.L.'s autopsy.
N.L. had several small injuries and a couple of hidden
bruises under her scalp. Krouse concluded that the downward
three-and-one-half or four-inch stab wound to the neck and
chest had caused N.L.'s death and that the manner of her
death was homicide. The autopsy revealed that the knife had
cut through N.L.'s jugular vein and had penetrated her
lung. Krouse opined that a stab wound to the neck like the
one N.L. suffered was clearly dangerous to human life and
that the injury to N.L.'s jugular vein was not
testified at trial and admitted that she had returned to her
apartment after fighting N.L., had retrieved a knife, and had
run back outside. A.M. explained that she did this to scare
N.L. and claimed, "My intent was to never harm
her." According to A.M., N.L. turned around; said,
"You real bold"; and then walked up to A.M. and
said, "Stick me, stick me. I ain't scared to die. I
want to die any ways." A.M. claimed that she told N.L.
to go home, and N.L. approached and swung at her. A.M. said
she "reacted" by stabbing N.L. A.M. testified,
"I made the most horrible mistake of my life and I wish
I was thinking at the time but emotions were so high and we
both [had] not fully calmed down yet." After A.M.
withdrew the knife, she tried to stop N.L., who was
panicking, from running. N.L. collapsed.
claimed that she went into her house and came back with
towels to put on N.L.'s neck but did not tell her mother
about the stabbing because she was only thinking of helping
N.L. A.M. also claimed that after her mother ran outside to
help N.L., she instructed A.M. to run. A.M. ran back to the
apartment, grabbed N.L.'s blanket, wrapped the knife in
it, and ran to another area of the apartment complex. A.M.
placed the knife and the blanket "over [a]
balcony." At about 4 a.m., A.M.'s mother informed
her by message that N.L. was dead. Eventually, A.M. provided
her location to her father, and he transported her to the
admitted that she was not truthful when she first spoke with
the detectives and had falsely told them that N.L. had a
knife too. A.M. testified that she had harmed N.L.
"unintentionally" and had walked outside with the
knife with the intention of scaring N.L. so that she would
run home. A.M. and N.L.'s phones were examined, and the
messages on them indicated that they had intended to fight
each other. However, in one of her messages, A.M. wrote to
N.L., "[B]itch I'll kill you on my . . . life."
A.M. testified that she "didn't mean" what she
had written. In her response, N.L. had written, "OMG is
this a threat, am I supposed [to] be scared?"
agreed that she could have stayed inside after the fight or
could have dropped the knife when J.D. grabbed her wrist but
declared that she had never stated after the fight that she
was "going to kill this bitch." The following
colloquy then occurred:
[The State]: I mean, you were already super mad when you came
outside that night, right?
[The State]: You were already super mad when you pulled away
from [J.D.] even though she was ...