Texas v. Prichard (original by judge alcala)Annotate this Case
While purportedly disciplining his pet dog, appellant Robert Prichard killed her by repeatedly hitting her head with a shovel and then drowning her in a swimming pool. He was indicted for the state-jail felony of cruelty to a non-livestock animal. In his petition for discretionary review, appellant argued that a deadly weapon finding was improper when the only thing injured or killed as a result of a defendant’s criminal conduct was an animal rather than a human. Rejecting that argument, the court of appeals upheld a deadly weapon finding in this case in which appellant was convicted of animal cruelty and the deadly force was directed only against a dog. The Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that the language of the deadly weapon statute was ambiguous with respect to whether a deadly weapon finding may be made for weapons used or exhibited against nonhumans, and thus, the Court considered extra-textual factors to discern the Legislature’s intent as to this matter. The Court thus determined that an analysis of those factors supported its determination that a deadly weapon finding may be made for human victims only. Therefore, the judgment of the court of appeals was reversed.