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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Ifren Escobedo was convicted of murder and received a life sentence and a $10,000 fine. In 1991, Escobedo met the victim, Gerald Curley, at a park. Curley followed Escobedo to a friend’s house. Escobedo asked Curley to stop following him. However, Curley then followed Escobedo to his apartment where they engaged in homosexual acts. When Curley ignored requests to leave, Escobedo strangled Curley with an electrical cord and left the apartment. After confessing the crime to his ex-wife, Escobedo returned home, stuffed the body into Curley’s car and abandoned it in an isolated area. The murder remained unsolved until a new examination of the evidence led to Escobedo’s arrest. In a videotaped statement, Escobedo confessed to the crime, unable to articulate a reason for the killing, stating that he “snapped.” Escobedo denied feeling provoked or motivated by theft. He claimed to be nonviolent and said he discarded Curley’s possessions. Various witnesses testified that the crime could qualify as either one of deliberation or sudden passion. Other witnesses viewed Escobedo as incapable of murder and said he appeared upset and remorseful. Detective Greg Burt testified that Escobedo denied feeling provoked or angry at the time of the killing and admitted to taking some of Curley’s possessions. Escobedo testified at the guilt/innocence phase of the trial. Finding public lewdness to be a crime of moral turpitude, the trial court allowed Escobedo to be impeached with a prior misdemeanor conviction for public lewdness. The jury convicted Escobedo. HOLDING:Affirmed. Escobedo contends that the evidence is factually insufficient to disprove that he acted under the influence of sudden passion from adequate cause. The court disagrees: First, the jury could reasonably conclude that no provocation either existed or occurred at the time of the offense; Second, even if Curley’s aggressive behavior and refusal to leave the apartment amounted to provocative conduct, the jury could reasonably conclude that the provocation was insufficient to render a man of ordinary temper incapable of cool reflection; Third, the jury could reasonably conclude that, even if Curley’s conduct gave rise to either possible or sufficient provocation, Escobedo acted with cool reflection. The court holds that the jury could reasonably find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Escobedo committed murder without adequate cause or sudden passion. Escobedo contends that public lewdness is not a crime of moral turpitude, and, thus, could not be used to attack a witness’ credibility. Defining moral turpitude as a vile, baseless or depraved act in the “private and social duties” owed to society and “contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man,” the Tyler Court found public lewdness to be a crime of moral turpitude. Green v. County Attorney of Anderson County, 592 S.W.2d 69 (Tex. Civ. App. – Tyler 1979, no writ). Escobedo questions Green, contending that public lewdness is not a crime of moral turpitude because it does not exhibit a “moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the community.” The court disagrees. All public lewd acts, as currently defined by the Texas Penal Code, violate societal notions of personal morality and good morals. It is not the public lewdness statute alone that frowns upon public lewdness. Rather, when performed in public, lewdness more than simply offends unsuspecting individuals, but is immoral in itself, reflecting a “moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the community.” Because the conduct underlying Escobedo’s public lewdness conviction violates accepted social behavior and offends society at large, the court holds that public lewdness, as defined by the Penal Code, constitutes a crime of moral turpitude and may be used to impeach a witness’ credibility. OPINION:Reyna, J.; Gray, C.J., Vance and Reyna, J.J.

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