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Landrum v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Tenth District

November 13, 2019


          From the 19th District Court McLennan County, Texas Trial Court No. 2017-2256-C1

          Before Chief Justice Gray, Justice Davis, and Justice Neill.



         Tarrence Terrell Landrum was convicted of theft of property valued at $2, 500 or more but less than $30, 000, a state jail felony. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 31.03(a), (e)(4)(A). He was sentenced to 18 months in a state jail facility. Because the evidence of value was sufficient to support the conviction and Landrum was not egregiously harmed by charge error, the trial court's judgment is affirmed.


         While Khoi Nguyen and his family were in the process of relocating out-of-state, their house was burglarized and much of their belongings were stolen. Landrum was identified as a suspect because he was selling some of the property on social media. A search warrant of Landrum's residence was issued and several pieces of property belonging to the Nguyen's were recovered from Landrum's residence. At trial, Landrum claimed to have not known the property was stolen.

         Sufficiency of the Evidence

         In his first issue, Landrum complains the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction because the State did not prove value of the property alleged to have been stolen.

         The Court of Criminal Appeals has expressed our standard of review of a sufficiency issue as follows:

When addressing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, we consider whether, after viewing all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979); Villa v. State, 514 S.W.3d 227, 232 (Tex. Crim. App. 2017). This standard requires the appellate court to defer "to the responsibility of the trier of fact fairly to resolve conflicts in the testimony, to weigh the evidence, and to draw reasonable inferences from basic facts to ultimate facts." Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319. We may not re-weigh the evidence or substitute our judgment for that of the factfinder. Williams v. State, 235 S.W.3d 742, 750 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007). The court conducting a sufficiency review must not engage in a "divide and conquer" strategy but must consider the cumulative force of all the evidence. Villa, 514 S.W.3d at 232. Although juries may not speculate about the meaning of facts or evidence, juries are permitted to draw any reasonable inferences from the facts so long as each inference is supported by the evidence presented at trial. Cary v. State, 507 S.W.3d 750, 757 (Tex. Crim. App. 2016) (citing Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319); see also Hooper v. State, 214 S.W.3d 9, 16-17 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007). We presume that the factfinder resolved any conflicting inferences from the evidence in favor of the verdict, and we defer to that resolution. Merritt v. State, 368 S.W.3d 516, 525 (Tex. Crim. App. 2012). This is because the jurors are the exclusive judges of the facts, the credibility of the witnesses, and the weight to be given to the testimony. Brooks v. State, 323 S.W.3d 893, 899 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010). Direct evidence and circumstantial evidence are equally probative, and circumstantial evidence alone may be sufficient to uphold a conviction so long as the cumulative force of all the incriminating circumstances is sufficient to support the conviction. Ramsey v. State, 473 S.W.3d 805, 809 (Tex. Crim. App. 2015); Hooper, 214 S.W.3d at 13.
We measure whether the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support a conviction by comparing it to "the elements of the offense as defined by the hypothetically correct jury charge for the case." Malik v. State, 953 S.W.2d 234, 240 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997). The hypothetically correct jury charge is one that "accurately sets out the law, is authorized by the indictment, does not unnecessarily increase the State's burden of proof or unnecessarily restrict the State's theories of liability, and adequately describes the particular offense for which the defendant was tried." Id.; see also Daugherty v. State, 387 S.W.3d 654, 665 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013). The "law as authorized by the indictment" includes the statutory elements of the offense and those elements as modified by the indictment. Daugherty, 387 S.W.3d at 665.

Zuniga v. State, 551 S.W.3d 729, 732-33 (Tex. Crim. App. 2018).

         A person commits the state jail felony offense of theft if the person unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property and the value of the property stolen is $2, 500 or more but less than $30, 000. Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 31.03(a), (e)(4)(A). When the proof of value is given by a non-owner, the non-owner must be qualified as to his knowledge of the value of the property and must give testimony explicitly as to the fair market value or replacement value of the property. Sullivan v. State, 701 S.W.2d 905, 909 (Tex. Crim. App. 1986). Fair market value means the amount the property would sell for in cash, given a reasonable time for selling it. Keeton v. State, 803 S.W.2d 304, 305 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991).

         However, when the owner of the property testifies as to the value of the property, the owner may testify as to his opinion or estimate of the value of the property in general and in commonly understood terms. Sullivan, 701 S.W.2d at 909. Testimony of this nature is an offer of the witness' best knowledge of the value of the property. Id. Such testimony will constitute sufficient evidence for the trier of fact to decide value based on the witness' credibility. Id. This is true even in the absence of a specific statement as to "market value" or "replacement value." Id. Further, when an owner testifies, there is a presumption that the owner is testifying to an estimation of the fair market value. Id.; Trammell v. State, 511 S.W.2d 951, 954 (Tex. Crim. App. 1974). The owner may reasonably ...

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