OSPA Offers Practically Free Traffic-Stop Training for Rural Law Enforcement
Assistant State Prosecuting Attorney John R. Messinger will conduct a 4-hour presentation covering 4th Amendment issues with a focus on traffic stops. The presentation is accompanied by a paper (distributed in advance) and includes:
∙ Historical perspective
∙ In-depth coverage of controlling law
∙ Discussion of recent cases and pending issues
∙ A quiz!
This service is for small or rural counties that do not have the resources to send officers for training. Credit can be earned with a department’s approval.
Call ((512) 463-1660) or email (email@example.com) John to schedule a training day for this August (August will be the only time the service is offered).
1. “In a murder case, where there is no body, no direct evidence of a death and no direct evidence to show that Petitioner acted either intentionally or knowingly in causing the alleged victim’s death or acted with intent to cause serious bodily injury and committed an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused the alleged victim’s death, must the State prove a ‘fatal act of violence’ in order to convict a person of murder?”
2. “The Court of Appeals erred in finding the evidence sufficient to support the Petitioner’s conviction for murder when the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged victim was deceased and that her death was caused by a criminal act of Petitioner.”
3. “Did the Court of Appeals err in finding the evidence sufficient to support Petitioner's conviction?”
4. “The Court of Appeals rendition of crucial evidence in its opinion was erroneous and the Court of Appeals relied on this erroneous rendition of the evidence in finding the evidence sufficient to support Petitioner’s conviction.”
Delacruz was convicted of murder for killing his wife. The court of appeals rejected Delacruz’s sufficiency challenge and affirmed his conviction. It concluded:
[The evidence] shows that [his wife’s] life ended the morning of March 26, which was the last time that Delacruz—or anyone—saw her; that Delacruz had a motive, plan, and opportunity to kill her; that he concealed and fabricated evidence; that he provided numerous false and misleading statements to friends, family, and law enforcement regarding their relationship and her disappearance; that he withheld information from law enforcement that would have been critical to their investigation; and that he admitted that he committed a violent act against [his wife] in his home that left her bloodied and unconscious.
Delacruz argues that his suspicious behavior is relevant only if it can be linked to wrongful conduct—a “fatal act”—that was committed by him. Here, there was no such evidence, so this case is like Nisbett v. State, PD-0041-17 (granted July 26, 2017). Like Nisbett, he contends, there is no evidence that he possessed the mens rea for murder, even if the other elements were satisfied. Finally, Delacruz claims that the court of appeals’ decision conflicts with Walker v. State, 2016 Tex. Crim. App. Unpub. LEXIS 973 (Tex. Crim. App. Oct. 19, 2016), where the Court held the evidence insufficient to prove that the defendant’s caused the child’s burns.