X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Swain was convicted of the capital murder of Lola Nixon. Pursuant to the jury’s answers to the special issues set forth in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 37.071, ��2(b) and 2(e), the trial court sentenced Swain to death. Swain was investigated regarding the disappearance of Nixon, a woman whose house showed evidence of forced entry and blood throughout. Swain was questioned because he had been in possession of a truck that had been seen parked in front of a vacant house near Nixon’s. In response to police questioning, Swain stated that he and another man broke into Nixon’s house, beat her when she arrived home in the middle of the burglary, and that they placed her in the trunk of her car, drove her to a remote location and left her there alive. He then signed a consent form authorizing a search of his truck and agreed to show the detectives where they left the victim. They got into a detective’s car, where the detective then read Swain his Miranda warnings. At the site they found blood on the grass, and a black trash bag and a piece of a tire jack on the ground. The detective then took Swain to the police department, where he again read him his Miranda warnings and took his first written statement. The next morning, the detective again read Swain his warnings and took his second written statement, in which Swain named a different accomplice. Both named accomplices were excluded from suspicion after providing alibis. Swain was charged with burglary of a habitation, at which time he requested the appointment of counsel. He was then taken to the district attorney’s office, where he was questioned by a detective and an investigator with the district attorney’s office. He left the office with the detective and the investigator and directed them to Nixon’s body, which was located in an abandoned vehicle within a mile of where Swain first led the police. Nixon had been beaten over the head and stabbed in the chest. Swain then was taken back to the police department, where a detective again read him his rights and took his third written statement, in which he admitted that he alone burglarized Nixon’s home, hit her in the head with a tire tool, attempted to clean her up in the bathroom and placed her in the trunk of her car. He drove her to a secluded area and placed her in an abandoned car, believing that she was still alive when he left. He later disposed of the tire tool in a Dumpster at a restaurant, used Nixon’s credit cards for gas and money and gave away some of her jewelry. Police found the tire tool, and searched Swain’s truck and found black jeans, tennis shoes and batting gloves stained with Nixon’s blood, as well as keys to Nixon’s car and her garage door opener. HOLDING:Affirmed. On appeal, Swain raises 19 points of error, many of which are challenges to the admission of his oral and written statements as well as other evidence which he claims are the fruits of an illegal arrest. Swain argues that the trial court abused its discretion when it refused to allow him to question veniremembers on the law of parole. But the court holds that that his proposed questions are improper because they “implicate the strictures imposed by Standefer against commitment questions and by Barajas against ambiguous questions.” Next, Swain argues that the trial court erred because it denied suppression of all written and oral statements he made to law enforcement officers at the time of or subsequent to his arrest. Specifically, Swain contends that his oral statement to the detective and the investigator and his third written statement were obtained in violation of his right to counsel because they continued to question him after he appeared before the magistrate and requested the appointment of counsel. The court determines that the global statements made by Swain in his pretrial motion to suppress were not sufficiently specific to preserve the arguments he now makes on appeal. Swain then argues that his oral statements to the police and his first and second written statements were inadmissible fruits of an illegal arrest because there was no warrant or probable cause. But the court holds that even if assumed that Swain was arrested at the time he was questioned, the evidence viewed in the light most favorable to the trial court’s ruling supports a finding that the arrest did not take place until after he admitted his involvement in the burglary. Thus, the court holds that Swain’s admission that he was involved in the burglary and any prior statements he made to police were not fruits of the arrest. Finally, Swain claims that the evidence is legally insufficient to support the jury’s affirmative answer to the “future dangerousness” special issue because he had no prior criminal convictions and was a model prisoner while incarcerated awaiting trial. The court points out, however, that the state presented evidence at punishment that Swain had attacked several other women in the years before he committed the instant offense. The court found that both the facts of the instant offense and the other evidence showing Swain’s escalating pattern of violence support a finding of future dangerousness. The court concludes that any rational trier of fact could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that there is a probability that appellant would commit criminal acts of violence constituting a continuing threat to society. OPINION:Meyers, J.; Keller, P.J., and Price, Keasler, Hervey, Holcomb, and Cochran, JJ. Womack and Johnson, JJ., concurred.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.