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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The appellant was convicted of failing to register as a sex offender and received a twenty-five year prison sentence after the jury found that two enhancement paragraphs were true. The appellant contends his prior conviction was improperly admitted, his sentence should not have been enhanced, the trial court erred in refusing his request for a limiting instruction, and the evidence was legally and factually insufficient to convict him. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. The appellant’s purported prior conviction is from Illinois. The state offered no proof that Illinois requires different documentary proof than Texas to prove a prior conviction. The court applies the Texas standards to determine whether the state proved appellant had a prior conviction for a reportable offense. To prove a defendant has been convicted previously, the state must come forward with two categories of proof � the first proving the conviction and the second linking the defendant to that conviction. In appellant’s case, the state’s admissible evidence linked appellant to the purported conviction but failed to prove the conviction was valid and final. And the only evidence the state offered to prove the final conviction itself was not authenticated and should not have been admitted. Appellant’s Illinois penitentiary packet contains three single-page documents: 1. an “Order of Sentence and Commitment to Illinois Department of Corrections,” []; 2. a fingerprint card; and 3. an “Illinois Department of Corrections Bureau of Identification Offender Report.” It does not contain any certification by an Illinois official nor does it bear an Illinois seal. Because the packet lacks certification and a seal, appellant’s penitentiary packet was not self-authenticating under Texas Rule of Evidence 902. The only evidence of authenticity the state points to on appeal is the testimony it elicited that appellant’s fingerprints matched those found in the packet. The state’s reliance on the fingerprint match to authenticate the entire penitentiary packet is misplaced. The fingerprint match goes to the second category of proof � proving the defendant is the person previously convicted � and fails to prove that the documents in the packet are what the state asserts them to be. In the absence of any other proof that the documents in the packet are what the state claims � evidence of a valid and final conviction � the court finds the documents were not properly authenticated and should not have been admitted. As the penitentiary packet was the only evidence the state offered to prove appellant was previously convicted of a reportable offense, the court has no doubt that its improper admission affected appellant’s substantial rights. OPINION:Fowler, J.; Hedges, Fowler and Seymore, JJ.

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