“The court of appeals misapplied the standard of review for sufficiency of the evidence and in a manner that so far departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings as to call for an exercise of the Court of Criminal Appeals’ power of supervision.”
Edward assaulted a woman in her apartment. She called 911, spoke to an officer and two EMTs, and Edward was charged with family-violence assault with a prior family-violence conviction. The victim did not testify at trial. To prove she and Edward were in a dating relationship, the State presented the testimony of the responding officer and one of the EMTs. The officer testified that the victim told him that her boyfriend had beat her. She directed him to Edward, the only person in the apartment, who was sitting on the bed in her room. During that portion of the officer’s body-cam video, the victim did not say “my boyfriend,” as the officer alleged. The video, which was admitted at trial, was only an excerpt of the officer’s actions on the scene. The officer testified that before he left, he gave the victim a form to fill out, specific to family/dating-violence cases, and she signed it. The form itself was not admitted in evidence. The EMT testified on direct-examination that the victim had told her that her boyfriend had assaulted her. On cross-examination, the EMT contradicted herself, testifying she learned of the parties’ relationship from her partner, who had prepared a written report. The report itself was admitted in evidence, but the relationship information was redacted. The jury convicted Edward of the charged offense.
On appeal, Edward argued the evidence was insufficient to prove the parties’ dating relationship. Two judges on the court of appeals agreed, but the concurring judge did not join the lead (plurality) opinion. The plurality pointed to the missing statement on the body-cam video and the EMT’s contradictory testimony and concluded the jury “could do no more than speculate on the existence of a dating relationship.” It reformed the conviction to Class A misdemeanor assault.
Reiterating many of the points raised by the dissenting judge, the State argues the plurality failed to properly apply the standard of review. It highlights that it was the jury’s role to resolve conflicts in the evidence and that, even though the EMT may have gotten her information from hearsay, a reviewing court must consider inadmissible evidence. The State contends that the officer’s and EMT’s testimony that the victim referred to Edward as her “boyfriend,” along with his presence in one of the most intimate spaces of the home, was sufficient evidence to prove the dating-relationship element beyond a reasonable doubt.