7th Court of Appeals Opinion Released (Phillip Chaney) part 1
Posted in the Paducah Forum
#1 May 29, 2010
IN THE COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SEVENTH DISTRICT OF TEXAS
MAY 27, 2010
PHILLIP DOYLE CHANEY, APPELLANT
THE STATE OF TEXAS, APPELLEE
FROM THE 50TH DISTRICT COURT OF COTTLE COUNTY;
NO. 2834; HONORABLE WILLIAM H. HEATLY, JUDGE
Before QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PIRTLE, JJ.
The contention that an injury can amount to a crime only when inflicted by
intention is no provincial or transient notion. It is as universal and
persistent in mature systems of law as belief in freedom of the human will
and a consequent ability and duty of the normal individual to choose
between good and evil.
Justice Robert H. Jackson, United States Supreme Court1
1 Morissette v. United States, 342 U.S. 246, 250, 72 S.Ct. 240, 92 L.Ed. 288 (1952).
Appellant, Phillip Doyle Chaney, was convicted by a jury of murder with an
affirmative finding on use of a deadly weapon, to-wit: a firearm. Punishment was
assessed at twenty-three years confinement. By his original brief, Appellant presented
four points of error alleging error by the trial court (1) during jury selection by making
remarks to the panel reasonably calculated to benefit the State or prejudice him by
denying him his rights under article 35.15 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure; (2)
by overruling his objection to testimony by State's witness, Ranger Jay Foster,
regarding his intent to kill, thereby affecting his substantial rights; (3) in letting the jury's
verdict of murder stand and violating his rights in so doing because the evidence of his
intentional or knowing commission of murder is legally insufficient and (4) factually
Following submission of this appeal, this Court directed the parties to brief
unassigned error regarding the possibility of charge error in the definition of
"intentional" as it relates to the result oriented offense of murder.2 As a result of this
Court's directive, Appellant raised two additional points of error, to-wit:(5) the trial court
committed fundamental error that egregiously harmed him by erroneously defining the
culpable mental states of "intentional" and "knowing" in the abstract portion of the guiltinnocence
charge; and (6) the trial court violated his due process rights by allowing
inadmissible testimony and argument focusing on the intentional or knowing nature of
his conduct as opposed to the result of his conduct.
2Murder is a "result of conduct" offense, which means that the culpable mental state focuses on the
result of the conduct, i.e., causing the death of an individual; as opposed to a "nature of conduct" offense
where the focus is on the conduct itself. Cook v. State, 884 S.W.2d 485, 491 (Tex.Crim.App. 1994).
As to the first four points, the State contends the trial court did not err in its
remarks, Appellant did not preserve an objection as to Ranger Foster's testimony, and
the evidence was both legally and factually sufficient. As to the last two points, while
the State candidly concedes that the trial court erred by including the full statutory
definition of "knowingly" found in section 6.03(b) of the Texas Penal Code in the
abstract portion of the charge,3 it contends that Appellant did not suffer egregious harm
because the application paragraph of the court's charge correctly instructed the jury on
the appropriate mens rea. The State further contends that Appellant's allegations of
cumulative errors were unobjected to and thus not preserved for review. Finally, the
State contends Appellant's due process rights were not violated.
For the reasons to follow, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand
this matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
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