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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Paul Hernandez appeals his conviction and life sentence for the capital murder of Elizabeth Tate. On Dec. 7, 2001, Hernandez went to the mobile home of Elizabeth Tate with two other men, Ricky Alderete and Angel Vasquez. The three men went to Tate’s residence to steal the elderly woman’s new Lincoln Town Car. Once there, however, Alderete murdered Tate. Hernandez and his cohorts disposed of Tate’s body in an Atascosa County cemetery, where they burned Tate’s body with gasoline. San Antonio Police Officer Robert Moffitt testified that he interviewed Hernandez several days after Tate’s body was discovered. According to Moffitt, Hernandez provided authorities with a written statement concerning the events surrounding Tate’s murder. Moffitt read Hernandez’s written statement to the jury. In that statement, Hernandez said that he and Ricky thought Tate was dead, but after Ricky poured gasoline on her and lit it, she started screaming. According to the statement, Ricky and Hernandez hit her with sticks until she stopped screaming. Dr. James Fieg, a pathologist and medical examiner, concluded, based on his review of Tate’s airways and carbon monoxide level, that he could not make a conclusive determination as to whether or not Tate was alive at the time she was burned. Fieg further stated that gases are released from a person’s body when it is burned. As these gases escape from the body, they may produce high-pitched sounds. Lastly, Fieg stated that a dead person can produce movement when they are burned due to contracting muscle fibers. HOLDING:Affirmed. Hernandez argues there is insufficient evidence to convict him either as a principal actor or as a party to the offense. The evidence shows that Hernandez, Vasquez and Alderete discussed stealing Tate’s new car on the morning of the murder, including each participant’s role and what they planned to do if Tate was home when they went to steal her car. Hernandez assented to the plan, which called for him to act as a lookout. Hernandez was at Tate’s residence with Vasquez and Alderete when Alderete grabbed Tate and forced his way into her residence. Hernandez assisted his cohorts in the disposal of Tate’s body. The state presented evidence that Hernandez was the one who purchased the gasoline used to set Tate’s body on fire. There is evidence Hernandez continued to assist his cohorts after the men disposed of Tate’s body. The jury heard that Hernandez helped Alderete and Vasquez attempt to conceal their crimes by removing her license plate holder before the men tried to sell the car to one of Hernandez’s neighbors. After viewing all the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, the court concludes that a rational trier of fact could have found, beyond a reasonable doubt, Alderete committed capital murder, and that Hernandez, acting with the intent to promote or assist the capital murder, solicited, encouraged, directed, aided or attempted to aid Alderete to commit the capital murder. The court holds the evidence is legally sufficient to support Hernandez’s capital murder conviction. Hernandez argues there is insufficient evidence to convict him of capital murder because the evidence shows that the burglary, robbery and kidnapping of Tate “are unrelated to [Tate's] death.” Hernandez claims that at the time he helped Alderete beat Tate in the cemetery, all other felonies had long been completed. Although Hernandez claims Tate was not murdered until he and Alderete beat the victim with sticks in Leal Cemetery, the jury heard evidence from which it could infer that Tate died before reaching the cemetery. The court rejects appellant’s other assertions of error. OPINION:Stone, J.; Stone, Angelini and Marion, JJ.

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