On Appeal from the 137th District Court Lubbock County, Texas
Trial Court No. 2017-413,161, Honorable John J. McClendon, III, Presiding
Before QUINN, C.J., and PIRTLE and DOSS, JJ.
Joshua Martinez appeals his conviction for evading arrest. Though pleading guilty to the actual offense, he disputed committing the crime while using or exhibiting a deadly weapon. The deadly weapon was the Corvette he drove in attempting to evade capture. That same dispute underlies the sole issue before us, that is, whether the evidence presented was sufficient to support the finding that he used or exhibited a deadly weapon during commission of the underlying crime. We affirm.
A deadly weapon is defined as anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. See TEX. PENAL CODE ANN. § 1.07(a)(17)(B) (West Supp. 2019). Though not a deadly weapon per se, a motor vehicle may become one depending on the manner of its use or intended use. Chaudron v. State, No. 07-18-00295-CR, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 9801, at *4 (Tex. App.—Amarillo Nov. 8, 2019, pet. ref'd) (mem. op., not designated for publication); Cummings v. State, No. 05-17-00852-CR, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 5925, at *6 (Tex. App.—Dallas July 31, 2018, pet. ref'd) (mem. op., not designated for publication). In assessing whether the vehicle in question became one, we evaluate both the way it was used and whether it was capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. Chaudron, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 9801, at *5; accord Moore v. State, 520 S.W.3d 906, 910 (Tex. Crim. App. 2017) (stating same). The way it was used implicates considerations like whether the accused drove recklessly or dangerously as he committed the crime. Moore, 520 S.W.3d at 910. According to our highest criminal court, speeding coupled with neglecting to control the vehicle may indicate such recklessness or dangerousness. See id. (noting prior opinions and stating it has concluded there was evidence of reckless or dangerous driving where the defendant had been speeding and failed to apply the vehicles brakes or otherwise control his vehicle prior to a collision). And, as for the prong dealing with the vehicle's capability of causing death or serious injury, proof of any actual injury is unnecessary. See id. at 909. Evidence that others were "endangered" is sufficient. Id.
We finally note our obligation to construe the evidentiary record in the light most favorable to the finding made, that is, to the finding that the accused used or exhibited a deadly weapon. See Chaudron, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 9801, at *6. This is part and parcel of applying the standard utilized in assessing the sufficiency of the evidence.
The record before us has evidence of appellant accelerating his Corvette automobile to speeds exceeding 120 mph while being pursued by law enforcement. The speed limit was 65 mph as he did so. Furthermore, the time of the event was a bit after midnight, and the crime transpired on a major roadway (Loop 289) and adjacent access roads inside the city of Lubbock. As it occurred, appellant passed other cars while "swerving . . . from lane to lane." So too did he 1) cause one car to move to the shoulder of the road to avoid being hit, 2) run a stop light without slowing, 3) enter and exit Loop 289 several times in effort to escape, 4) pass through another intersection at a high rate of speed and whereat sat other cars and drivers, and, 5) eventually lose control of his Corvette and careen into a local cemetery. No one was seriously injured, much less killed, though.
From the foregoing, a rational trier of fact could reasonably conclude not only that appellant drove his vehicle in a reckless and dangerous way but also that the vehicle endangered others. That all around him escaped injury matters not. The circumstances at bar exceeded the "bare facts [deemed] insufficient to establish that the defendant 'caused another vehicle or person to be in actual danger,'" such being of concern to the Court of Criminal Appeals in Moore. Indeed, his vehicle coming to rest in a graveyard seems rather prescient of what was to happen had appellant not then come to a stop. Consequently, the finding under attack has sufficient evidentiary support. See, e.g., Drichas v. State, 175 S.W.3d 795, 797-98 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005) (wherein the court found that appellant disregarding traffic signs and signals, driving erratically, weaving between lanes and within lanes, turning abruptly into a construction zone, knocking down barricades, and driving on the wrong side on the highway in the presence of some traffic was enough to support a deadly-weapon finding); Cummings, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 5925, at *8-10 (wherein the court found appellant travelling at an unsafe speed in an urban area, running stop signs, slowing down only to make a turn at an intersection, squealing his tires, crawling from the window while the car was still moving and going over a curb was sufficient to support a deadly-weapon finding).
We overrule appellant's sole issue and affirm the trial court's judgment.
Chief Justice Do not publish.