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“Does the record contain no evidence that Appellant was aware that any firearm would be, was being, or had been used or exhibited during the robbery, as the Ninth Court of Appeals held, when there is evidence that one of the intruders carried a long, rifle-like gun and that Appellant transported this intruder to Brown’s house directly before the robbery?”
Sears was the designated driver while three other men robbed a woman in her home at gunpoint. On appeal, Sears challenged the deadly weapon element, arguing that the evidence did not support his use or exhibition as a party. The court of appeals agreed. It held that there was no evidence, from either the other men or the facts and circumstances, establishing that Sears knew about the guns. And, even though a witness saw the three men emerge from a ditch running and get into Sears’ truck after the robbery, he did not identify any guns.
The State contends that the court of appeals failed to differentiate between speculation and reasonable inferences. The evidence showed that one of the robbers carried a long, rifle-like gun, which would have been bulky and difficult to conceal, especially in close quarters like a vehicle and while running. From this, a jury could infer that Sears saw the rifle. Indeed, defense counsel addressed this point during closing argument when challenging the deadly weapon element. The jury rejected that argument, and its affirmative finding is entitled to deference.