Zuniga v. Texas (original by judge alcala)Annotate this Case
Appellant Ricardo Zuniga was convicted of two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity and one count of capital murder based on his participation in a shooting that caused the deaths of two individuals. On appeal, he argued that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for engaging in organized criminal activity because the record failed to show that he committed the shootings while possessing the intent to establish, maintain, or participate “as a member of a criminal street gang.” Agreeing with appellant’s argument, the court of appeals vacated his convictions and entered judgments of acquittal as to both counts of engaging in organized criminal activity. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed with the court of appeals’s analysis and holding. Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the jury’s verdict as measured against a hypothetically correct jury charge, the Court concluded a rational factfinder could have determined that appellant participated in the shootings “as a member of a criminal street gang,” in the sense that he was acting in the role, capacity, or function of a gang member in carrying out the offenses. Therefore, the Court held the evidence was sufficient to support appellant’s convictions for engaging in organized criminal activity; the trial court's judgments of conviction were reinstated.