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Click here for the full text of this decisionClick here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In the punishment phase of Kimberly Haley’s cocaine possession trial, the state introduced evidence of Haley’s participation in an extraneous murder offense and testimony of the murder victim’s mother. Holding the evidence insufficient to find Haley guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the murder, the court of appeals found error. The court also found error in the admission of the testimony of Arleen Adelman, the mother of the murder victim. HOLDING:The court of appeals’ remand to the trial court for a new trial on the punishment phase is affirmed. The court concludes that the court of appeals erred in holding 1. that the evidence must first show that Haley is guilty of murder in connection with Adelman’s death and 2. that Haley’s guilt must be shown beyond a reasonable doubt. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 37.07 3(a)’ s language cannot be labeled ambiguous, nor does the plain-language application lead to absurd results unintended by the Legislature. The provision’s unambiguous wording means, for purposes of assessing punishment, that the prosecution may offer evidence of any extraneous crime or bad act that is shown, beyond a reasonable doubt, either to have been 1. an act committed by the defendant or 2. an act for which he could be held criminally responsible. For purposes of this case, several principles are apparent from article 37.07 3(a)’s text. First, 3(a) does not contemplate any significant distinction between the terms “bad act” or “extraneous offense.” Second, the statutorily imposed burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt does not require the offering party to necessarily prove that the act was a criminal act or that the defendant committed a crime. Third, the statute’s plain language is in harmony with the nature and general characteristics of punishment evidence. Arleen Adelman’s testimony is categorized by the court as victim-impact and victim-character. On direct examination, Adelman testified to the emotional impact her son’s hospitalization and subsequent death had on her family. The court of appeals found error in the introduction of Adelman’s testimony. Although Haley’s counsel did not obtain a running objection, the court finds that the bench conference was a hearing outside the presence of the jury and satisfied Texas Rule of Evidence 103(a). Adelman’s testimony in the form of victim-impact and victim-character testimony regarding an extraneous offense or bad act was irrelevant under Rule 401 to the determination of the appropriate sentence Haley should receive on the facts of this case, the court finds. The court agrees with the lower court’s holding that the trial court erred in admitting victim-impact evidence relating to the extraneous offense of murder in the punishment phase of Haley’s cocaine possession trial. The court further agrees with the court of appeals’ analysis in finding that the erroneous introduction of Adelman’s testimony had a substantial effect on the jury’s verdict. OPINION:Keasler, J., delivered the opinion of the Court in which Price, Womack, Johnson, Hervey, Holcomb and Cochran, JJ., joined. Keller, P.J., filed a concurring opinion. Meyers, J., did not participate. CONCURRENCE:Keller, P.J. “I agree that we are permitted to reach the merits of the State’s argument, but I do so for a simpler reason: the party that prevailed at trial should never be required to advance an argument before the Court of Appeals as a predicate for raising that argument on discretionary review. “The threshold for relevance under Rule 401 is very low . . . [I]nstead of finding the evidence”irrelevant,’ I would hold that the minimal probativeness of this evidence was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice under Rule 403.”

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