Appeal is taken from a conviction for murder
The evidence reflected that during an altercation the deceased was struck in his head by one of four shots fired by appellant with a .25 caliber automatic pistol. According to appellant's testimony, he was on his way to the country to try out his new pistol when he confronted the deceased, who had quarreled with a cousin of appellant a few days before. Encountering provocative language, then conduct, appellant testified he prepared to defend himself; the deceased kicked him in the stomach, then twice in the face. In a dazed state, appellant pulled his pistol and fired in the direction of the deceased.
In Braudrick v. State, 572 S.W.2d 709, 710 (Tex.Cr.App.1978), the Court examined the relationship between murder
572 S.W.2d at 711.
With the nature of the "element" of "sudden passion" in mind, it becomes apparent not only that the burden of proving the lack of sudden passion must be placed upon the prosecution, but also that this burden must be so placed in the paragraph of the charge applying the law of murder to the facts of the case.
Thereafter the jury was for the first time instructed in the abstract on the law of voluntary manslaughter and the definitions of "sudden passion" and "adequate cause." The application paragraph concerning voluntary manslaughter essentially tracked that suggested by McClung, Jury Charges for Texas Criminal Practice (Jan. 1981) 47, 48. See n. 8, ante.
With the defensive issue of sudden passion deleted from the paragraph on murder and placed only in the voluntary manslaughter paragraph as it is here, there exists a decided likelihood that a jury would affirmatively answer the murder paragraph, never having considered the defensive issue of sudden passion which would reduce the offense of murder to the lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter. Thus, if the jurors followed the court's instructions to the letter — indeed, we must presume they did — the State's burden of proof was significantly diminished and appellant was denied an opportunity to have the jury determine his guilt on the issue of murder as interpreted by the Court in Braudrick, supra. Under these circumstances, this error precipitated a denial of due process of law in the most fundamental sense.
The judgment of conviction is reversed and the cause is remanded to the trial court.
CAMPBELL, J., concurs in result.
McCORMICK, Judge, dissenting to the denial of State's Motion for Leave to File Motion for Rehearing without written opinion.
On original submission, this Court, relying on Braudrick v. State, 572 S.W.2d 709 (Tex.Cr.App.1978), found that the "element" of "under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause" is in the nature of a defense to the offense of murder that must be disproved by the State if raised by the evidence in order to establish the offense of murder. The opinion on original submission then went on to boldly state without statutory or case authority that:
The opinion then went on to make the novel holding that where the charge was worded with the defensive issue of sudden passion deleted from the paragraph on murder and placed only in the voluntary manslaughter paragraph there existed a likelihood that the jury would affirmatively answer the murder paragraph and never even consider the defensive issue of sudden passion.
It has long been the general rule that a reviewing court should read the charge as a whole. Doyle v. State, 631 S.W.2d 732 (Tex.Cr.App.1982) (Opinion on Rehearing). This rule, however, is not applicable when an entire element of the offense is omitted from the application paragraph. Doyle v. State, supra (where the culpable mental state was omitted from the jury charge).
The Court's opinion on original submission relied on Braudrick v. State, supra, in its analysis of the "elements" of murder and voluntary manslaughter. In Braudrick, a panel of this Court found that the fact that the accused was "not acting under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause" was an implied element of murder, as distinguished from a statutory element (see V.T. C.A., Penal Code, Section 19.02) and must be proved only where the evidence adduced at trial raised the issue that the accused was acting under such an influence. But, the author of the Court's opinion in Braudrick also went on to write that the fact that the defendant was acting "under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause" is in the nature of a defense to murder that reduces the offense to voluntary manslaughter. So, although not quite an element of murder, this issue of "sudden passion" does in fact seem to be a defense to murder and as a matter of burden of proof is to be treated like a defense.
I submit that, according to Braudrick, "sudden passion" is then not an element that must be charged in the application paragraph of murder. In fact, if we read Braudrick closely, we see that the panel therein approved the court's charge which in essence is identical to the charge before us today.
To hold that error is present in the charge as given presumes that the jury reads portions of the charge in a vacuum. I would show the Court that in paragraph 17 the court instructed the jury as follows:
Clearly, upon reading the charge as a whole, one finds complete and correct instructions to the jury on the law of murder and voluntary manslaughter.
If we extend the position of the opinion on original submission to its logical end, this Court would have to hold that in every case failure to include every defense raised by the evidence in the paragraph applying the law of the primary offense to the facts
The speculative conclusion made by the opinion on original submission assumes that juries never read past the paragraph applying the law to the facts. If this is so, why doesn't this court just take the final leap and do away with every portion of the charge except the paragraph applying the law to the facts.
This is not to say that the Court is wrong in saying that it would be acceptable to include the absence of "sudden passion" in the paragraph applying the law of murder to the facts. However, there are other proper ways of submitting the defensive issue of sudden passion and the charge as submitted in the instant case contains one of those acceptable ways.
Finally, this Court has held that it is not fundamental error for failure to give a charge on defensive theories. Hawkins v. State, 660 S.W.2d 65 (Tex.Cr.App.1983); White v. State, 495 S.W.2d 903 (Tex.Cr. App.1973); Paredes v. State, 500 S.W.2d 160 (Tex.Cr.App.1973). If these cases are correct, how can it be fundamental error to charge on defensive theories?
Because I find that the reasoning of the opinion on original submission erroneous and I feel that rehearing should be granted, I must dissent to the Court's denial of the State's motion for leave to file a motion for rehearing.
W.C. DAVIS, J., joins in this dissent.
If you find from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that on or about the ___ day of ____, 19 — in ____ County, Texas, the defendant, AB, did intentionally or knowingly cause the death of an individual,
See also Texas Criminal Pattern Jury Charges, CPJC 19.02(VM) at 119-120.
Because the indictment did not allege murder under § 19.02(a)(2), it was improper for the court to authorize a conviction for voluntary manslaughter under that theory. Appellant's specific objection on this ground was also improperly overruled; this error should be avoided in the event of a retrial. See and compare Garcia v. State, 574 S.W.2d 133 (Tex.Cr.App. 1978).