Rodriguez v. Texas (original by judge meyers)Annotate this Case
Appellant was charged with felony murder with injury to a child as the underlying offense. The Court of Criminal Appeals determined that the evidence was insufficient to support the felony murder conviction, but that the jury necessarily found her guilty of the lesser-included offense of injury to a child. The indictment stated that she "did then and there intentionally, knowingly, recklessly and with criminal negligence commit and attempt to commit a felony, namely injury to a child." The application paragraph of the jury charge included each of these mental states in the disjunctive, and the court defined each one. When Appellant was convicted, the jury entered a general verdict; there was no way to know whether the jury found that Appellant acted intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence in the starvation of her child. Because the injury to a child offense had varying penalties based on the culpable mental state of the defendant, and without a determination on mental state, the jury had no guidance on the applicable punishment range. The Court of Criminal Appeals granted Appellant's motion for rehearing in order to clarify its order that the trial court reform Appellant's conviction from felony murder to injury of a child and conduct a new punishment hearing based on the reformed conviction. Appellant argued that remanding the case for an entirely new trial, rather than reforming the conviction and conducting a new punishment hearing, was the proper disposition. The Court agreed, and remanded for a new trial.