Roshone Johnson v. The State of Texas--Appeal from County Crim Ct No 5 of Tarrant County

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Roshone Johnson v. The State of Texas /**/




No. 10-99-174-CR









From the County Criminal Court No. 5

Tarrant County, Texas

Trial Court # 0717038


Appellant Johnson appeals his conviction for Assault with Bodily Injury, for which he was sentenced to 90 days in the county jail.

Appellant was originally charged by Information with Assault with Bodily Injury to a Family Member of the Defendant. The State asked to amend the Information by deleting the language a family member of the defendant, and to proceed on the case as a simple assault with bodily injury. The court granted the State s request over appellant s objection. The court further denied appellant s request for an additional ten days to prepare for trial.

Tamara Iloff, the victim of the assault, did not testify. All testimony regarding the assault came from Officer W.T. Watkins. Officer Watkins testified as to the details of the assault according to what Ms. Iloff had told him.

A jury found appellant guilty. Appellant elected to have the Judge assess punishment, who assessed appellant 90 days in the county jail.

Appellant appeals on 3 points of error.

Point 1: The trial court erred in admitting hearsay statements made by the victim that violated appellant s right to confrontation under the Texas and United States Constitutions.

Point 2: The trial court erred in admitting statements made by the victim that violated Rule 803 of the Texas Rules of Evidence.

Officer Watkins testified that he was dispatched on a call at 5:16 a.m. to the Victorian Inn, and that he arrived on scene at 5:18 a.m. He testified that Tamara Iloff, the victim, met him in the breeze way; that she was very upset; she looked like she had been in a fight; that he saw that her left shin was bleeding; her hair was messed up; her face, shoulders and arms were red; she was crying; very emotional; not only upset but angry; and that he and Ms. Iloff spoke together 25 or 30 minutes.

Ms. Iloff told Officer Watkins that at about 5 a.m., her common law spouse, Roshone Johnson (Appellant) began to assault her by hitting her, slapping and kicking her; and that he beat her up.

Officer Watkins checked the room where Ms. Iloff and Appellant had been staying and saw that the room had been torn up, the mattress knocked off the box springs, and there was broken glass and beer bottles in the room. Appellant was not there.

Defense counsel objected to Officer Watkins testimony stating what the victim had told him, as follows:

Defense Counsel:Objection, Judge, hearsay and also violates the right of confrontation and the United States Constitution, and also irrelevant.

The Court: Response.

The State:Your honor, this qualifies under the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule.

The Court:Objection overruled.

Defense Counsel:Judge, may we have a running objection to all statements made by Tamara Iloff.

The Court:You may.


Officer Watkins then testified that Ms. Iloff told him that appellant had beaten her up; that appellant was her common law spouse; and that they had lived together for a while; and that Ms. Iloff continued to cry and was very upset.

To preserve error for appellate review, the complaining party must make a timely specific objection. The objection must be made at the earliest possible opportunity. The complaining party must obtain an adverse ruling from the trial court. Finally, the point of error on appeal must correspond to the objection made at trial. Turner v. State, 805 S.W.2d 423, 431 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991).

We first address appellant s second point, that the trial court erred in admitting statements made by the victim, that violated Rule 803 of the Texas Rules of Evidence.

Tex. R. Evid. 803(2) provides that statements relating to a startling event or condition made while the declarant was under the stress or excitement caused by the event or condition, are admissible as exceptions to the hearsay rule.

The critical factor in determining when a statement is an excited utterance under Rule 803(2), is whether a declarant was still dominated by the emotions, excitement, fear or pain of the event. Lawton v. State, 913 S.W.2d 542, 553 (Tex. Crim. App. 1995).

The admissibility of an out of court statement under the exceptions to the general hearsay exclusion rule is within the trial court s discretion. Id., p. 553; Coffin v. State, 885 S.W.2d 140, 149 (Tex. Crim. App. 1994).

It is clear from Officer Watkins testimony that Ms. Iloff was still in the emotional grip of the assault. He was at the scene at 5:18 a.m; the assault had occurred at 5:00 a.m. Officer Watkins saw Ms. Iloff. He noticed she was bleeding and red, and she was crying. Under these facts, the trial court did not err in holding that Ms. Iloff s out-of-court statements to Officer Watkins were excited utterance under Tex. R. Evid. 803(2), and that Officer Watkins testimony reciting what she told him did not violate such Rule.

Point 2 is overruled.

Point 1 asserts the admission of statements made by the victim violated appellant s right of confrontation under the Texas and U.S. Constitutions.

Since Appellant did not object at trial on the basis of the Texas Constitution, we will address only his assertion that admission of the victim s out-of-court statements violated his right of confrontation under the U.S. Constitution.

Officer Watkins testified as to what Ms. Iloff told him as to who her assailant was and what he did to her.

The preference for live testimony is because of the importance of cross examination the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth. The courts have adopted the general rule prohibiting the receipt of hearsay evidence. But where proffered hearsay has sufficient guarantees of reliability to come within a firmly rooted exception to the hearsay rule, as in this case, the confrontation clause is satisfied. White v. Illinois, 112 S. Ct. 736, 743 (1992); Bernal v. State, 13 S.W.3d 852, 854 (Tex. App. Austin 2000, pet. ref d).

The testimony of Officer Watkins as to what Ms. Iloff told him was thus admissible, and was not in violation of appellant s right of confrontation under the U.S. Constitution.

Point 1 is overruled.

Point 3: The trial court erred in denying appellant s request for ten additional days to prepare for trial after the state amended the information.

The State did not amend the information. It merely abandoned a portion of the charge. In such situations, Article 28.10 Tex. Code Crim. Proc. (which provides for 10 days additional time for preparation for a defendant where an indictment or information is amended), is not applicable. Stockton v. State, 756 S.W.2d 873, 876 (Tex. App. Austin 1988, no pet).

Point 3 is overruled.


The judgment is affirmed.



Chief Justice (Retired)


Before Justice Vance,

Justice Gray, and

Chief Justice McDonald (Retired)


Opinion delivered and filed December 27, 2000

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