Court of Appeals of Texas, Sixth District, Texarkana
Submitted: September 5, 2019
Appeal from the 196th District Court Hunt County, Texas Trial
Court No. 32127.
Morriss, C.J., Burgess and Stevens, JJ.
K. Burgess Justice.
Rickey Donell Williamson confronted Jaime Ramirez and his
friend about disrespecting Williamson's girlfriend, the
result was a brief, but violent, altercation between
Williamson and Ramirez. The violent encounter ended when
Williamson inflicted a deep, ten-inch gash to the left side
of Ramirez' face with a box-cutting knife. Although
Williamson maintained that he acted in self-defense, a Hunt
County jury convicted him of aggravated assault with a deadly
weapon and sentenced him to forty years' imprisonment. On
appeal, Williamson complains that (1) the trial court erred
in ruling that two prior convictions were admissible under
Rule 609 of the Texas Rules of Evidence and (2) insufficient
evidence supports the jury's rejection of his
self-defense claim. Because we find that (1) Williamson
waived his complaint regarding the admission of his two prior
convictions and (2) sufficient evidence supports the
jury's rejection of his self-defense claim, we affirm the
trial court's judgment.
Williamson's Rule 609 Complaint Was
first issue, Williamson complains that the trial court erred
in finding that evidence of two prior family violence
assaults was admissible to impeach
his credibility under Rule 609 of the Texas Rules of
Evidence. See Tex. R. Evid. 609(a). Under Rule
609(a), a trial court must admit a criminal conviction
offered to impeach a witness' character for truthfulness
if (a) the conviction was for a felony or a crime involving
moral turpitude, (b) its probative value outweighs its
prejudicial effect, and (c) it is elicited from the witness
or shown by public record. Tex. R. Evid. 609(a); see
Theus v. State, 845 S.W.2d 874, 880 (Tex.Crim.App. 1992)
(setting forth a nonexclusive list of factors to be
considered in weighing the probative value of a conviction
against its prejudicial effect). Williamson argues that the
trial court misapplied the Theus factors in
determining that the two convictions were admissible. The
State argues that Williamson waived this complaint because
the evidence of the two convictions was elicited from
Williamson in his direct testimony, not by the State. We
agree with the State.
case, after the State rested from its case-in-chief, the
State informed the trial court that it intended to use
several prior convictions, including the two convictions that
are the subject of his complaint, to impeach Williamson's
credibility, if he chose to testify. After some discussion,
the trial court considered the Theus factors and
found that the two family violence assault convictions would
be admissible if Williamson chose to testify. In his direct
examination, Williamson testified that he had pled guilty to
the offense of family violence assault in 2007 and to another
family violence assault offense in 2008. Thereafter, the
State did not offer the judgments of conviction for those
offenses into evidence in the guilt/innocence phase of the
previously held under similar facts that any complaint that
evidence of a prior conviction was not admissible has been
waived. Gaffney v. State, 940 S.W.2d 682, 687
(Tex.App.-Texarkana 1996, pet. ref'd) (op. on reh'g).
In Gaffney, after the trial court had overruled the
defendant's motion to exclude evidence of the prior
convictions, Gaffney elected to bring out the matter of his
prior convictions by his own testimony during his direct
examination. We explained that since the State did not
introduce the evidence or bring it out on cross-examination,
and Gaffney had elected instead to do so on his direct
examination, he had waived any complaint regarding the
admissibility of the prior convictions. Id.
to our decision in Gaffney, the United States
Supreme Court addressed the same issue and concluded that
"a defendant who preemptively introduces evidence of a
prior conviction on direct examination may not on appeal
claim that the admission of such evidence was error."
Ohler v. United States, 529 U.S. 753, 760 (2000).
The Supreme Court explained that once the trial court makes
its ruling, both the defendant and the State have choices to
make, and those choices have consequences. See id.
at 757–60. The defendant may choose to introduce the
prior conviction on direct examination in hopes of removing
its sting, or he may take his chances with the State's
introduction of the conviction on cross-examination.
Id. at 758. If the defendant does not introduce the
prior conviction, the State must decide whether to impeach
the defendant with the conviction and risk that its use would
be reversible error on appeal. Id. By introducing
the evidence on direct examination, the defendant denies the
State this right to decide. Id. However, the
consequence of introducing the evidence on direct examination
is that the defendant waives any appellate complaint
regarding the admission of the evidence. Id. at 760.
on Ohler, several of our sister courts of appeals
have held that a defendant waives the right to complain about
a trial court's ruling on the admissibility of prior
convictions when he preemptively introduces them on direct
examination. See Bryant v. State, 534 S.W.3d 471,
473 (Tex.App.-Corpus Christi 2017, pet. ref'd);
Roderick v. State, 494 S.W.3d 868, 881
(Tex.App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2016, no pet.); Sargent v.
State, No. 10-13-00158-CR, 2014 WL 505350, at *2
(Tex.App.-Waco Feb. 6, 2014, pet. ref'd) (mem. op., not
designated for publication). Since Williamson introduced the prior
convictions on direct examination, he waived his complaint
regarding their admissibility. We overrule his first issue.
Sufficient Evidence Supported the Jury's Rejection of
also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting
the jury's rejection of his self-defense claim.
Williamson contends that no reasonable jury could have
rejected his claim of self-defense under the evidence
produced in this case.
The Law ...