1. “Does collateral estoppel bar the State from prosecuting a defendant for conduct occurring at a different time and place than the original conduct for which the defendant was acquitted?”
2. “Does collateral estoppel mean that a defendant’s mental state cannot change due to intervening circumstances between the original conduct for which he was acquitted and the subsequent conduct for which he remains charged?”
3. “Does collateral estoppel mean that a defendant whose ongoing conduct may constitute multiple criminal offenses can only be prosecuted for a single offense despite the conduct occurring in different places, at different times and with intervening circumstances between the originally-prosecuted conduct and the potentially-prosecutable latter conduct?”
4. “Does the Court of Appeals’ expansive view of collateral estoppel implicitly resuscitate the long-abandoned carving doctrine limiting prosecution to a single offense when justice and reason demand prosecution for each potential criminal misconduct?”
Richardson and Keondrick Polk met with Jkeiston Levi and Breon Robinson at a Conoco gas station under the pretense of selling Levi a gun; Richardson and Polk had sold the gun earlier that day. After Richardson and Polk got in the back seat of Levi’s vehicle, Polk demanded their stuff and quickly thereafter shot Robinson in the back. Richardson acted surprised. He, Levi, and Robinson fled the vehicle but Robinson did not get far. Polk told Richardson to get Polk’s car and drive towards Robinson and Levi. Polk then approached Levi and told him to let him help put Robinson in Levi’s car; Levi was to follow Richardson and Polk to the hospital. About a mile and a half away, Polk’s car (driven by Robinson) slowed down and Polk, according to Levi, shot Levi multiple times. Robinson died from the injury sustained at Conoco. Levi survived the second shooting.
Richardson was first tried as a party for Robinson’s death. He was charged with capital murder in the course of robbery, murder under Tex. Penal Code § 19.02(b)(2), and with a lesser-included offense of aggravated robbery. He was acquitted. Richardson was then charged with aggravated robbery and aggravated assault of Levi. He alleged that both counts were barred by collateral estoppel. The trial court agreed on the first count but permitted the aggravated assault prosecution.
Richardson appealed, and the court of appeals reversed. Reviewing the charges in both cases and the evidence in the first, it held the first jury necessarily decided that Richardson was not a shooter at Conoco and had been merely present (and thus not a party) when Polk acted as a shooter. Therefore, whether Richardson was the shooter or a party during the events of that night was decided in the first trial.
The State argues the court of appeals disregarded the first rule of collateral estoppel, which is to carefully define the scope of the first jury’s finding by what it necessarily decided, not merely what it could have or even very likely decided. This involves consideration of time, space, and intervening circumstances. The first verdict, the State argues, did not require the jury to decide anything about the second shooting, e.g., who shot Levi, whether Richardson was “merely present” if Polk did, or whether he should have anticipated it given he (and Levi) had just witnessed Polk shoot Robinson. The court of appeals’s holding to the contrary both seemingly resuscitates the carving doctrine, which limited prosecution to one per single criminal transaction, and expands it to a series of criminal transactions separated by time, place, and mental state.