Shane Hancock v. The State of Texas--Appeal from 13th District Court of Navarro County

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Hancock-S v. State /**/




No. 10-95-276-CR









From the 13th District Court

Navarro County, Texas

Trial Court # 00-01-25-844




Appellant Hancock appeals from his conviction for capital murder for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Appellant, age 15, and four others went to the house of Joe Simon Patrico to rob him of his money. Patrico was stabbed 104 times from which wounds he died. His money was taken by the group.

The next morning, Appellant was arrested. The juvenile court waived its jurisdiction over Appellant and transferred his case to the 13th District Court of Navarro County. Appellant was subsequently indicted for capital murder.

Appellant gave a written statement relating to the events of the robbery and murder, in which he admitted being one of three in the group who stabbed the deceased. He filed a motion to suppress the written statement which the trial court, after a hearing, denied. Thereafter, he was tried and convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison. Appellant's statement was read to the jury at trial over his objection.

Appellant appeals on one point of error: "The trial court erred when it denied Appellant's motion to suppress his statement."

Specifically Appellant argues: that he gave a prior oral statement to Detective Zaidle which did not implicate him; that he had not had much sleep; that he had no food since 4:00 p.m. the previous day; that he did not understand his rights because he was half asleep; that he felt his statement was given under pressure imposed by Detective Zaidle; that Detective Zaidle wrote out his statement; that he did not understand he was under arrest, much less that he was giving a statement which implicated him in a capital murder; and for which reasons the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress, and later admitting the statement at trial over his objection.

In a hearing on a motion to suppress a statement, the trial judge is the sole and exclusive trier of fact and the judge of the credibility of the witnesses as well as the weight to be given their testimony. Romero v. State, 800 S.W.2d 539, 543 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993). If the court's resolution of a controverted issue on a motion to suppress is supported by the record, a reviewing court should not disturb the decision. Muniz v. State, 852 S.W.2d 238, 252 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993), cert. denied, 114 S. Ct. 116, 126.

To admit a written statement, the State has the burden of proving that the defendant's rights were explained to him and that he knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his rights. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The State must make a showing of waiver by a preponderance of the evidence. Colorado v. Conelly, 479 U.S. 157 (1986). Each case is decided on the totality of the circumstances. Watson v. State, 762 S.W.2d 592, 597 (Tex. Crim. App. 1988). Additionally, the statement must comply with Article 38.22, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, and in the case of a juvenile, with Section 51.09 of the Texas Family Code.

Appellant's statement meets the criterion set out in Article 38.22 and Section 51.09 of the Family Code. The statement is in writing and signed by Appellant. The statement shows Appellant received all warnings required by Article 38.22 prior to making the statement. Further, Justice of the Peace Mayfield testified that Appellant understood the rights set out in the warning. Appellant's statement shows that he had received the warnings contained in Section 51.09 of the Family Code. Appellant signed the statement in front of Judge Mayfield who testified no person other than herself was present as she read the warnings and the statement and that he signed it. Judge Mayfield further testified she was fully convinced that Appellant understood the nature and contents of his statement and that he signed it voluntarily in her presence; and that she signed a written certification that all statutory requirements for taking Appellant's statement had been met.

Appellant was taken into custody during the early morning hours of March 11, 1995. He was first warned by Detective Zaidle who testified that Appellant waived his rights and agreed to talk with her. After speaking with Detective Zaidle, Appellant again agreed to waive his rights and provide a written statement. He was then taken before Judge Mayfield about 10:30 a.m. and Judge Mayfield read the required warnings to Appellant and asked him if he understood or had any questions. Judge Mayfield testified that at all times, Appellant appeared alert, did not appear tired, and that he was rocking and swiveling in his chair while she read the warnings. Further, she did not observe anything that would suggest to her that he was tired, such as slumping in his chair or putting his head down on the table.

During the actual taking of the statement, Detective Zaidle testified Appellant's words flowed freely, and that he was alert. After completing the statement, Appellant was again taken before Judge Mayfield who again, at 12:00 o'clock, read the required warnings. As Judge Mayfield read the statement back to him, Appellant was very exacting and specific, requesting that ten changes be made in the three-page statement. At that time Appellant understood that he could make any changes to the statement that he desired.

Appellant never requested to speak to a lawyer, a probation officer, or his parents. He never indicated that he was hungry and at all times appeared and acted alert and "unconcerned."

Judge Mayfield gave him every opportunity to indicate he did not understand what was going on. He gave a voluntary statement which was taken with the precautions necessary for a juvenile statement to be admissible. The statement complies in every way with the statutory and constitutional requirements.

The trial judge, who heard the motion to suppress, resolved the controverted issues and his resolution of same is supported by the record.

Appellant's point is overruled. The judgment is affirmed.


Chief Justice (Retired)


Before Justice Cummings,

Justice Vance, and

Chief Justice McDonald (Retired)


Opinion delivered and filed May 15, 1996

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