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:On Jan. 5, 2005, at approximately 4 a.m., appellant Charone Wynn entered a Denny’s restaurant near Interstate 45 and Little York Road. He was greeted by the complainant, Tria Rhone, who worked as the restaurant’s night manager. Rhone led appellant to a table, where he ordered a meal. After he finished eating, appellant walked into the restaurant’s kitchen, placed a handgun to Rhone’s head and demanded money from the safe. Rhone complied with appellant’s demands, opening the safe and handing its contents to appellant. Dissatisfied with the amount of money inside the safe, appellant pressed the gun to Rhone’s head stating, “This is all you got? You’re going to die for this.” Aware that a robbery was in progress, waitress Evelin Pedraza warned the restaurant’s patrons and instructed them to leave. In the ensuing commotion, patron Lorenzo Yerba ran into the restaurant’s kitchen area, where he witnessed appellant holding a handgun to Rhone’s head. Yerba turned to head for the front of the restaurant. When Yerba reentered the dining area, appellant was standing near the cash register, which he ordered Yerba to open. After Yerba told him that he did not work at the restaurant, appellant demanded Yerba’s wallet, which Yerba gave to him. Appellant then left the restaurant through the front door, hopped on a bicycle, and rode toward a Houston Metro Park & Ride. Houston Police Officer B. Chebret received a radio dispatch that appellant, armed with a gun, was in the Park & Ride. Chebret drove to the Park & Ride’s north entrance, where he saw appellant riding his bicycle. After appellant ignored Chebret’s commands to stop, Chebret used his taser to subdue him after a brief chase. Rhone and Yerba identified appellant, who was taken into custody and indicted for aggravated robbery. At a pretrial hearing on Aug. 1, 2005, the state confirmed that it was willing to offer appellant a sentence of 28 years of confinement. Appellant rejected the state’s offer and informed the trial court that he was not satisfied with his court-appointed counsel. Appellant then stated that he preferred to wear his orange jail suit to trial, rather than the civilian clothes provided by his aunt. Despite admonitions from the trial court and his counsel regarding the prejudicial effect of appearing before the jury in a jail suit, appellant insisted that he would not wear civilian clothes to trial. The court took note of appellant’s confrontational demeanor in the courtroom and ordered he be shackled for the trial. The court advised appellant to keep his hands beneath the table so the jury will not see them. Voir dire commenced the next day, Aug. 2, 2005. Appellant, appearing in his orange jail suit, held his shackled hands in plain view of the venire members, despite the trial court’s prior instructions not to do so. Appellant remained shackled throughout his trial. The jury found him guilty and the trial court assessed his punishment at confinement for life. An appeal followed. In his first and second points of error, appellant contended that the trial court violated his due process rights under the U.S. and Texas constitutions by requiring him to wear shackles throughout his trial. HOLDING:Affirmed. The use of shackles cannot be justified based on a general appeal to the need for courtroom security or simple reference to the severity of the charged offense, the court stated. Rather, the court stated, a trial court must state with particularity its reasons for shackling a defendant. In this case, the court found, the trial court noted at the Aug. 1 pretrial hearing that it was concerned with appellant’s demeanor and would order appellant shackled for the duration of his trial. According to the trial court, appellant 1. exhibited a generally hostile demeanor; 2. acted combatively toward courtroom deputies; 3. displayed clinched fists to the jurors in a manner the trial court interpreted to be threatening; and 4. purposefully defied the court’s instructions by revealing his shackles to the jurors. Noting that both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals have held that legitimate concerns over courtroom security will justify the shackling of a criminal defendant for trial, the court concluded that the trial court acted within its discretion when it ordered appellant to be shackled for the duration of his trial. Moreover, the court stated that even if it were to hold that the trial court erred in shackling appellant, it would hold that appellant suffered no harm from the trial court’s error. The court noted that appellant was admonished to keep his shackled hands out of sight of the jury but he purposefully held up his hands so the jury could see the shackles. It is a well-settled principle of law that a criminal defendant cannot invite error and then complain of it on appeal, the court stated. OPINION:Keyes, J.; Taft, Keyes and Hanks, J.J.

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

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* 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 © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.