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Blacklock v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
Sep 26, 2007
235 S.W.3d 231 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007)

Summary

holding that appellant's motion for DNA testing fairly alleged and showed by preponderance of the evidence that the victim's lone attacker was the semen donor and that exculpatory DNA test results excluding appellant as the donor would establish his innocence

Summary of this case from Lockett v. State

Opinion

Nos. PD-1639/1640-06.

September 26, 2007.

Appeal from the 180th District Court, Harris County, Debbie Montooth-Stricklin, J.

John L. Denninger, Houston, for Appellant.

Kevin P. Keating, Assistant District Atty., Houston, Matthew Paul, State's Atty., Austin, for State.


OPINION


In this case, we decide that appellant is entitled to post-conviction DNA testing under Article 64 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

Appellant was convicted in 1995 of an aggravated robbery and an aggravated sexual assault, both of which occurred on November 13, 1992, during the same transaction. Appellant received two, stacked life sentences. The victim knew appellant and identified him at his 1995 trial as the one who robbed and sexually assaulted her. The State presented other evidence at appellant's 1995 trial that DNA testing of semen from the victim's vaginal smears was inconclusive on the issue of identity. The State did rely on this evidence at appellant's 1995 trial to show that a sexual assault occurred.

In 2005, appellant filed a motion for DNA testing of the (previously DNA-tested) semen from the victim's vaginal smears and of semen left by the victim's attacker on the victim's pants and panties during the 1992 attack. This motion alleged that there "is no indication in the statement of facts that [the State] tested the semen on the pants or panties." This motion also appears to allege that DNA testing of this material, with DNA testing techniques improved since appellant's 1995 trial, will exclude appellant as the victim's attacker.

We understand the State's response to appellant's motion for DNA testing and the convicting court's findings to reflect that this material is available for DNA testing.

Appellant's motion alleges:

Had the biological evidence been subjected to proper DNA testing capable of determining the identity of the donor of the semen, as defendant believes is possible today, and such results excluded the defendant as the donor, it is reasonably probable that the defendant would not have been prosecuted or convicted.

The convicting court denied appellant's request for DNA testing based on findings that appellant failed to show that "identity was or is an issue in this case" and that he failed to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that "he would not have been convicted if exculpatory results had been obtained through DNA testing." In affirming the convicting court's ruling, the court of appeals decided that identity is not an issue because appellant failed to allege that identity is an issue and because the victim testified at appellant's 1995 trial "that she knew appellant and that he had robbed and sexually assaulted her." See Blacklock v. State, slip op. at 6-7, 2006 WL 2382766 (Tex.App.-Corpus Christi Nos. 13-05-474-CR 13-05-475-CR, delivered August 17, 2006) (not designated for publication). The Court of Appeals also decided that appellant failed "to provide facts in support of his motion" to establish "by a preponderance of the evidence that he would not have been convicted if exculpatory results had been obtained through DNA testing." See id. We granted appellant's petition for discretionary review to review these decisions by the court of appeals.

See Article 64.03(a)(1)(B) (a)(2)(A), TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC., (convicting court may order DNA testing if it finds, among other things, that "identity was or is an issue in the case" and "the convicted person establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the person would not have been convicted if exculpatory results had been obtained through DNA testing").

Appellant's 2005 motion for DNA testing has fairly alleged, and shown by a preponderance of the evidence, that the victim's lone attacker is the donor of the material for which appellant seeks DNA testing. Thus, on this record, exculpatory DNA test results, excluding appellant as the donor of this material, would establish appellant's innocence. The legislative history of Chapter 64 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure very clearly shows that this is precisely the situation in which the Legislature intended to provide post-conviction DNA testing. See generally Kutzner v. State, 75 S.W.3d 427 (Tex.Cr.App. 2002).

This Court's decision in Kutzner did not decide that a defendant must prove his "actual innocence" as a condition to establishing his right to DNA testing. See Kutzner, 75 S.W.2d at 438-39. Instead, Kutzner decided that a defendant proves his right to DNA testing of evidence by showing that exculpatory DNA results would establish the defendant's innocence. See id.

That the victim testified that she knew appellant and identified him as her attacker is irrelevant to whether appellant's motion for DNA testing makes his identity an issue and whether it shows that exculpatory DNA tests would prove his innocence. The language and legislative history of Article 64.03(a)(1)(B) make it very clear that a defendant, who requests DNA testing, can make identity an issue by showing that exculpatory DNA tests would prove his innocence. This applies even when a defendant has pled guilty, thereby conceding the issue of identity at trial. See Article 64.03(b) (convicting court prohibited from finding that identity was not an issue in the case solely on the basis of guilty or nolo contendere plea); but see Bell v. State, 90 S.W.3d 301, 308 (Tex.Cr.App. 2002) (suggesting that a prior confession renders identity a nonissue in a Chapter 64 proceeding). This also applies even in cases like this where the victim knew the person she identified at trial as her attacker.

The version of Article 64.03(b) applicable to appellant's case provides that a "convicted person who pleaded guilty or nolo contendere in the case may submit a motion under this chapter, and the convicting court is prohibited from finding that identity was not an issue in the case solely on the basis of that plea." See Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 13, § 3. In 2007, the 80th Legislature amended Article 64.03(b), which now provides that a "convicted person who pleaded guilty or nolo contendere or, whether before or after conviction, made a confession or similar admission in the case may submit a motion under this chapter, and the convicting court is prohibited from finding that identity was not an issue in the case solely on the basis of that plea, confession, or admission, as applicable." See Acts 2007, 80th Leg., HB 681, § 4 (emphasis noting change from prior law supplied).

The judgment of the court of appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded to the convicting court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Summaries of

Blacklock v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
Sep 26, 2007
235 S.W.3d 231 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007)

holding that appellant's motion for DNA testing fairly alleged and showed by preponderance of the evidence that the victim's lone attacker was the semen donor and that exculpatory DNA test results excluding appellant as the donor would establish his innocence

Summary of this case from Lockett v. State

concluding that in case where DNA testing had already been done for trial but was inconclusive on issue of identity and where convicted person sought testing of biological evidence left by single assailant, "exculpatory test results, excluding [Blacklock] as the donor of this material, would establish [his] innocence" because his motion "alleged" and "show[ed] by a preponderance of the evidence[] that the victim's lone attacker is the donor of the material for which [he] seeks DNA testing"

Summary of this case from Smith v. State

reversing trial court's denial of post-conviction DNA testing despite defendant's guilty plea because "exculpatory DNA test results, excluding appellant as the donor of this material, would establish appellant's innocence"

Summary of this case from Dunning v. State

reversing denial of motion for DNA testing where appellant showed by a preponderance of evidence that victim's lone attacker would be donor of material for which appellant sought testing and thus, exculpatory test results would establish appellant's innocence

Summary of this case from Brooks v. State

commenting that victim's testimony "that she knew appellant and identified him as her attacker is irrelevant to whether appellant's motion for DNA testing makes his identity an issue and whether it shows that exculpatory DNA tests would prove his innocence" and that "a defendant, who requests DNA testing, can make identity an issue by showing that exculpatory DNA tests would prove his innocence"

Summary of this case from In re Rice

noting that DNA can be authorized even in circumstances where defendant pleaded guilty and conceded "the issue of identity at trial"

Summary of this case from In re Adkins

In Blacklock, "[t]he victim knew [Blacklock] and identified him... as the one who robbed and sexually assaulted her," and the evidence regarding "DNA testing... was inconclusive on the issue of identity."

Summary of this case from Copple v. State

In Blacklock, the defendant was convicted of aggravated robbery and aggravated sexual assault. Blacklock, 235 S.W.3d at 232.

Summary of this case from Ford v. State

In Blacklock v. State, 235 S.W.3d 231, 232 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007), the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the decision of the court of appeals (which denied the requested DNA testing) despite the fact that the victim knew the defendant and identified him at trial as the one who robbed and sexually assaulted her.

Summary of this case from McCoy v. State

In Blacklock, the victim had been sexually assaulted by a lone attacker, and the State had collected semen samples from the victim's vaginal smears, pants, and panties.

Summary of this case from Sheckells v. State

In Blacklock, 235 S.W.3d at 232-33, the court of criminal appeals noted that exculpatory DNA testing excluding the defendant as the donor of the biological material would establish his innocence, which, according to the court of criminal appeals, was "precisely the situation in which the Legislature intended to provide post-conviction DNA testing."

Summary of this case from Garcia v. State

In Blacklock, the court of criminal appeals held that Blacklock's factual allegations in his motion were sufficient to raise the issue of identity.

Summary of this case from Armstrong v. State

In Blacklock, the appellant was convicted of aggravated robbery and aggravated sexual assault. Years later, the appellant filed a motion for DNA testing, which the trial court denied based on its finding that appellant had failed to show identity was or is an issue in the case.

Summary of this case from Lyon v. State

stating that exoneration by exclusion of a defendant as the DNA donor "is precisely the situation in which the Legislature intended to provide post-conviction DNA testing."

Summary of this case from Lyon v. State

In Blacklock, the victim had been sexually assaulted, and the State had collected semen samples from the victim's vaginal smears, pants, and panties.

Summary of this case from Willis v. State

In Blacklock, the victim had been sexually assaulted, and the State had collected semen samples from the victim's vaginal smears, pants, and panties.

Summary of this case from Willis v. State
Case details for

Blacklock v. State

Case Details

Full title:Tony Lee BLACKLOCK, Appellant v. The STATE of Texas

Court:Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas

Date published: Sep 26, 2007

Citations

235 S.W.3d 231 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007)

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