Opinion issued February 2, 2012.
Court of Appeals
First District of Texas
KENNETH WAYNE JEROME, Appellant
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee
On Appeal from the 263rd Judicial District Court
Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 1233728
A jury found appellant, Kenneth Wayne Jerome, guilty of the offense of
murder,1 and the trial court assessed his punishment at confinement for seventy-
See TEX. PENAL CODE ANN. § 19.02 (Vernon 2011).
five years. In two issues, appellant contends that the evidence is legally and
factually insufficient to support his conviction.
Ontwain Grant testified that on the evening of October 23, 2006, he and the
complainant, Deric Williams, were watching a football game on a television in the
complainant’s bedroom. After Grant left the room and entered another room, he
heard a “big boom.” When he went back to check on the complainant, Grant found
that the bedroom door was locked. He left the house, walked around to the
complainant’s bedroom window, and saw William Broussard and Vincent Golston,
the owner of the house, peering through boards over the window. As Golston and
Broussard were trying to pry the boards off the window, Grant could hear the
complainant asking, “What’s wrong? . . . [W]hy you doing me like this?” When
Grant looked inside the window, he saw appellant, who was standing over the
complainant, back away and then leave the room. Golston and Grant went back
into the house and found the complainant, who was not breathing, lying motionless
on the bedroom floor. On cross-examination, Grant initially denied that he had
told police officers that he had arrived at the house between 9:00 and 10:00 in the
evening. However, when confronted with his initial statement, Grant explained
that he may have misstated some facts because “stuff happens so fast.” Grant also
admitted that, in his initial statement, he had failed to mention to police officers
that he had heard the complainant ask “what’s wrong?”
Broussard testified that when he went to visit the complainant, he found the
bedroom door locked. He then exited the house and went to the complainant’s
bedroom window, where he saw appellant arguing with the complainant.
Broussard knew appellant, having grown up in the same neighborhood as him and
having worked on his car.
Broussard saw appellant “walk up behind” the
complainant, grab him from behind his neck, and “start choking him.” Broussard
twice asked appellant to stop, but he “did not respond in any way” and continued
to choke the complainant for ten to fifteen minutes before the complainant fell to
the floor. Appellant then picked up a chair, threw it at the complainant’s chest, and
left the house. Broussard left shortly thereafter and voluntarily reported what he
had seen to police officers the next day.
On cross-examination, Broussard
admitted that, in his initial statement to the police officers, he did not mention that
he had twice asked appellant to stop choking the complainant.
Harris County Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Roger Milton testified that
he was assigned to perform an autopsy on the complainant’s body. Milton noted
that the complainant’s injuries included “small hemorrhages . . . in the lower
eyelid[s]” and within the eyes, which were likely as a result of increased blood
pressure in those areas. Milton explained that the hemorrhages were consistent
with “neck compression” that “trapp[ed] the blood inside the head.”
complainant also had hemorrhages in the “larger muscles of his neck,” behind his
larynx, and behind his throat. Milton noted that he had “commonly see[n]” such
injuries in “strangulation-type cases” where there is “significant force applied to
the neck.” Milton opined that the complainant’s injuries indicated a homicide by
“manual strangulation” and that the attacker used both his arm and hands in
strangling the complainant.
Appellant, who described the complainant as a “real close friend” and
explained that they had grown up together, testified that he went to the
complainant’s house to visit him. When appellant arrived, he saw Grant standing
to the side of the house. Appellant knocked on the front door, and he was greeted
by Vincent Golston’s brother, Billy, who informed him that the complainant was in
his bedroom. Appellant explained that the complainant’s bedroom was not the
room identified by Grant and Broussard, but a different room on the other side of
When appellant entered the complainant’s bedroom, he saw the
complainant talking on a telephone. After the complainant ended his telephone
conversation, appellant started arguing with the complainant because the
complainant had “kind of put [appellant’s] business out there in the streets.” After
arguing for about five minutes, appellant heard somebody “beating on the house”
and saying that the police officers were outside. Appellant then “got paranoid,”
ran out of the house, and drove home.
Standard of Review
We review the legal sufficiency of the evidence by considering all of the
evidence “in the light most favorable to the prosecution” to determine whether any
“rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the offense beyond
a reasonable doubt.” Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 318–19, 99 S. Ct. 2781,
2788–89 (1979). Our role is that of a due process safeguard, ensuring only the
rationality of the trier of fact’s finding of the essential elements of the offense
beyond a reasonable doubt. See Moreno v. State, 755 S.W.2d 866, 867 (Tex. Crim.
App. 1988). We give deference to the fact finder to fairly resolve conflicts in
testimony, to weigh evidence, and to draw reasonable inferences from the facts.
Williams v. State, 235 S.W.3d 742, 750 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007). However, our
duty requires us to “ensure that the evidence presented actually supports a
conclusion that the defendant committed the crime that was charged.” Id.
We now review the factual sufficiency of the evidence under the same
appellate standard of review as that for legal sufficiency. Ervin v. State, 331
S.W.3d 49, 52–56 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2010, pet. ref’d.).
Sufficiency of the Evidence
In his two issues, appellant argues that the evidence is legally and factually
insufficient to support his conviction because the testimony of both Broussard and
Grant was inconsistent and “contradictory to their original statements to the
police,” and, as a result, “[n]o reasonable jury could have found” appellant guilty
of murder beyond a reasonable doubt.
A person commits the offense of murder if he intentionally or knowingly
causes the death of an individual. TEX. PENAL CODE ANN. § 19.02(b)(1) (Vernon
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, Broussard
testified that he saw appellant grasp the complainant in a “chokehold” for ten to
fifteen minutes before releasing him onto the floor. This evidence alone satisfies
the statutory elements of murder. See id. The testimony of a single eyewitness
may be legally sufficient to support a conviction of a criminal offense. See Aguilar
v. State, 468 S.W.2d 75, 77 (Tex. Crim. App. 1971) (upholding conviction for
attempted murder where only one witness saw appellant with gun); Davis v. State,
177 S.W.3d 355, 359 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2005, no pet.) (affirming
conviction for aggravated robbery where central issue involved a single witness’s
credibility); see also Proctor v. State, 319 S.W.3d 175, 185 (Tex. App.—Houston
[1st Dist.] 2010, pet. struck); Lee v. State, 176 S.W.3d 452, 458 (Tex. App.—
Houston [1st Dist.] 2004), aff’d, 206 S.W.3d 620 (Tex. Crim. App. 2006).
Broussard’s testimony was substantiated by Grant, who saw appellant standing
over the complainant’s body.
Furthermore, Dr. Milton’s analysis of the
complainant’s injuries was also consistent with Broussard’s testimony that
appellant had choked the complainant.
Appellant asserts that both Broussard and Grant had criminal histories and
there were inconsistencies between their initial statements to police officers and
their in-court testimony. Specifically, appellant notes that Broussard did not tell
police officers that he had asked appellant to stop choking the complainant and
Grant did not tell the officers that he had heard the complainant speak. Appellant
also notes that although Broussard testified that appellant choked the complainant
for ten to fifteen minutes, Grant testified that he immediately went outside after
hearing a “big boom” to see appellant standing over the motionless complainant.
Although there were some inconsistencies in Grant’s and Broussard’s testimony, it
is the function of the jury to resolve any conflicts in the evidence and evaluate the
credibility of the witnesses. See, e.g., Williams, 235 S.W.3d at 750; see also
Padilla v. State, 326 S.W.3d 195, 200 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010) (“Faced with a
record of historical facts that support conflicting inferences, the reviewing court
‘must presume . . . that the trier of fact resolved any such conflicts in favor of the
prosecution, and must defer to that resolution.’”) (quoting Jackson, 443 U.S. at
326). Accordingly, we hold that the evidence is sufficient for a rational jury to find
appellant guilty of the offense of murder. See Moreno, 755 S.W.2d at 867.
We overrule appellant’s two issues.
We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Panel consists of Justices Jennings, Massengale, and Huddle.
Do not publish. TEX. R. APP. P. 47.2(b).