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Davis v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

October 15, 2019

NATHANIEL DAVIS, Appellant
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 228th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 1456812

          Panel consists of Justices Christopher, Bourliot, and Spain.

          OPINION

          Frances Bourliot, Justice.

         Nathaniel Davis challenges the legal sufficiency of the evidence in support of his capital murder conviction and challenges the constitutionality of his mandatory life sentence. The State charged appellant by indictment with capital murder, alleging that he intentionally caused the death of the complainant while burglarizing or attempting to burglarize a habitation. In the course of committing the offense, appellant entered the apartment that he previously had shared with his ex-girlfriend. Appellant contends his ex-girlfriend did not have a greater right to possess the apartment and thus the jury's finding that he committed burglary is not supported by legally sufficient evidence. Because we conclude otherwise and because appellant waived his constitutional challenges, we affirm.

         Background

         Appellant and his ex-girlfriend, Ms. Daniels, began dating in 2013. They moved into an apartment in November 2014 that had been leased by Daniels' cousin, Michael Rose. Rose allowed Daniels and appellant to live together in the apartment. They did not sign a lease, but both had keys. Rose paid the rent.[1]

         By mid-December, appellant told Daniels that he wanted to move out. When he did so, he left a television and some other personal items. Appellant later attempted to reconcile with Daniels, but she did not want to resume the relationship. In the meantime, Daniels had begun dating Searrier Smith.

         After appellant moved out, he still had his key but never used it to reenter the apartment. Rose testified that both Daniels and appellant had permission to come and go from the apartment as they pleased.[2] Rose thought that appellant was "coming and going from the apartment as the relationship was on and off," but Daniels testified that appellant did not return to the apartment until the morning of the offense or possibility the night before.

         By early February 2015, Daniels was staying with Smith at his mother's house and "[e]very now and then . . . but not every night" staying in the apartment. One night, Daniels and Smith spent the night in the apartment. Daniels testified that appellant called Daniels about 20 times that night and someone knocked on the door. She assumed it was appellant but did not open the door.

         The next morning, Daniels and Smith were in bed while appellant persistently knocked on the door. He started beating on the door and yelling at Daniels to open it. Appellant called Daniels and told her he brought her breakfast and wanted to take her to work. She said she did not want any breakfast or a ride to work. The knocking stopped, so Daniels assumed appellant had left.

         Appellant came back and began beating on the door again. Daniels called Rose and asked him to tell appellant "to stop knocking at the door because if something gets broken, I don't want to be responsible for it." Rose responded, "Nah, you tell him" and "If you have a problem, call the police."[3] At some point during this timeframe, appellant called Daniels and told her, "if he couldn't have [her], can't nobody have [her]." Daniels hung up on him.

         Daniels and Smith were still in the apartment when they heard a loud boom-the sound of appellant breaking the window. Appellant came in through the window and ran toward Daniels. Appellant brought two butcher knives, began stabbing Daniels, and said, "Bitch, you gonna die today."

         Smith came up behind appellant while he was attacking Daniels. Daniels looked at Smith, alerting appellant that Smith was there. Appellant turned around and was surprised to find a man with Daniels. Appellant stabbed Smith in his abdomen. Smith said, "Bro, you stabbed me," fell to his knees and onto his face, and never got up again.

         Appellant went back to stabbing Daniels. He then dragged Smith to the window, kicked him multiple times in the face, and said, "This is my woman. She belongs to me. . . . And you over here trying to F her." Appellant turned back, grabbed Daniels by the head, stabbed her again, and cut around her neck. He walked back to Smith and checked Smith's pulse. Daniels then closed her eyes and pretended to be dead. Appellant walked on her from her head to her feet. He then washed his hands and checked ...


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