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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On Jan. 6, 2003, appellant Vincent Davis’ neighbor Paula Weightman went outside to smoke a cigarette and heard “bloodcurdling” screams coming from the house across the street. She heard appellant’s girlfriend Patricia Ford scream, “Get out, get out.” Then she heard appellant yell, “I will show you,” accompanied by hitting noises and “Ow.” She called 911. Officers Cortez and Canizales responded to Weightman’s 911 call. They heard appellant yelling and Ford screaming for help. Cortez testified that he opened the door and told her to run out of the house. As Ford came out, she was screaming hysterically and grabbing at her face with her hands. He then ordered appellant out of the house and handcuffed him. Weightman saw Ford come out of the house. Ford was trembling and holding her neck. She told Weightman, “He tried to kill me.” Ford seemed to be in shock and couldn’t even get up the porch steps without help. She had bruises and abrasions that ran along the bottom of her neck as if she were “wearing a necklace.” Cortez stayed with appellant while Canizales went across the street to Weightman’s front porch to get Ford’s side of the story. Ford did not testify at trial. Over hearsay and confrontation clause objections, Canizales testified that Ford, still quite upset, told him the following: “[T]hat morning she told Mr. Davis that he was going to have to go out and get a job or look for a job, and that started an argument between the two of them. Davis began to follow Ford through the house. When she tried to exit the house”she was grabbed by her shirt and pulled back into the residence and thrown on the couch.’ ” Canizales testified that Ford then described a terrible fight in which Davis savagely beat, strangled her with a rope and choked her with his hands. Like Weightman, Canizales noticed Ford’s injuries: There was blood on her lip and swelling on her head and neck. Those injuries were “consistent with what she told [him] had occurred.” The state offered photographs of Ford which showed “redness around the neck.” Pictures of the living room floor showed the rope that she said appellant used to strangle her. The rope itself was admitted as an exhibit. Two victim services workers also described Ford’s injuries. In addition, the state offered into evidence Ford’s medical records that described the injuries to her face and neck. Appellant testified on his own behalf. He said that he and Ford got into an argument that escalated into a shouting match. He admitted hitting Ford, slapping the coffee out of her hand and then slapping her in the face. He testified that he pushed her down on the couch and held his finger to her temple “and then something just said let her go and I just stopped.” When asked about the presence of the rope on the living room floor, appellant said that he uses it to tie his lawn mowing tools together to put in the grocery basket that he uses to transport things. In closing, defense counsel focused on the fact that the jurors had heard from his client, who had admitted simple assault, but that they had not heard from Ford. He noted the irony of the state wanting the jury “to believe beyond a reasonable doubt what Patricia Ford said when she wasn’t here.” The state, on the other hand, reminded the jurors that they had heard from Ford “through her statements to the officers.” The jury was instructed on both aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (appellant’s hands or a rope) and simple assault. It convicted appellant of the greater offense. On appeal, appellant claimed that the trial court committed harmful error under Crawford when it admitted Ford’s out-of-court statements. After setting out the emerging law under Crawford, the court of appeals concluded that it need not decide whether Ford’s statements were testimonial. Even if the statements were testimonial, any error in admitting them was harmless. HOLDING:Affirmed. The Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) set out the law controlling whether an error in admitting out-of-court statements in violation of Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), is harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. In conducting such an analysis, the CCA stated that reviewing courts must consider: 1. The importance of the hearsay statements to the state’s case; 2. Whether the hearsay evidence was cumulative of other evidence; 3. The presence or absence of evidence corroborating or contradicting the hearsay testimony on material points; and 4. The overall strength of the prosecution’s case. In the final analysis, the court stated, a reviewing court must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the admission of Crawford-barred testimony would probably not have had a significant impact on the mind of an average juror. The court stated that although Ford’s testimonial statements concerning how appellant had attempted to strangle her with a rope were important to the state’s case, they were also cumulative of significant other evidence which proved that same fact, such as the rope-mark bruises around the base of her neck, his admission that he had caused her injuries, properly admitted excited utterance statements to Ford’s neighbor and properly admitted statements made for medical purposes to the EMS and hospital personnel. In sum, the CCA majority agreed with the court of appeals that the Crawford error in this case was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. OPINION:Cochran, J., delivered the opinion of the court in which Keller, P.J., and Meyers, Keasler, Hervey and Holcomb, J.J., joined. DISSENT:Womack, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Price and Johnson, J.J., joined. “[B]ecause of the sheer volume of relevant detail in the erroneously admitted evidence, I cannot say, as the Due Process Clause requires, that “the State has met its burden of demonstrating that the admission of the [evidence in violation of the Constitution] did not contribute to [the appellant's] conviction . . . . I would reverse the judgments below so that this case could be tried as the Constitution requires. I respectfully dissent.”

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