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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:While walking her dog in December 2001, Mary Ann Mensi came upon what appeared to be a homeless camp in the woods and smelled the odor of a decomposing body. Mensi returned to her apartment and called 911. Police officers found a body in the campsite outside a tent. They left the scene undisturbed and called E.M.S. and the Austin Police Homicide Unit. Police homicide investigators responded. They found a man’s body lying face down on a rug covered with a blanket. A wallet was discovered lying close to the body containing a California driver’s license and a social security card, both issued to John Irving Teller Jr. Fingerprints taken from the body matched Teller’s known fingerprints on file with the Austin Police Department. A Bank of America envelope postmarked Nov. 21, 2001, and addressed to Charles Reedy Jr. (appellant) at the Austin Labor Depot on South Lamar Avenue was found in the fire pit at the campsite. Tests performed on the swabs from the soda bottle and one whiskey bottle showed a mixture of DNA from Teller and Reedy. Another whiskey bottle swab, when tested, revealed only Reedy’s DNA. Dr. Vladimir Parungau, deputy medical examiner of Travis County, performed the autopsy on Dec. 18, 2001. When asked his opinion of the cause of death, Parungau stated that Teller died as a result of a fracture due to blunt trauma to the head. When asked if the blunt trauma could have been caused by a hatchet or small axe, the doctor answered, “anything similar to that, yes sir.” Shelly Joslin, Teller’s girlfriend, testified that he had called her from the Salvation Army a couple of weeks before his body was found. He told her that he was hanging out with a friend named Charles. Early in the investigation, police officers became aware of an earlier incident where Reedy allegedly confessed committing a murder or murders to another homeless man named Michael Sinclaire. Sinclaire also recalled Reedy buying an axe. Sinclaire reported this to police before Mensi found the body, but officers could not locate any corpses. After finding Teller’s body, police investigators located Reedy in Alabaster, Ala., at his ex-wife’s house. With the assistance of local authorities, Reedy was taken into custody. Austin detectives Robert Merrill and Eric DeLos Santos arrived in Alabaster on Dec. 20, 2001, and interviewed Reedy on that date at the police station. Reedy denied committing a murder. A microscopic examination of a hatchet found at the murder scene by the state revealed only some stray blue and white fibers. There was no blood, skin or other biological material on the hatchet. There was no evidence that police found fingerprints or other marks of identification on the hatchet. It does not appear that the litter of leaves under the hatchet, when found and collected, revealed any blood when examined by state police. Phillip Papick, a convenience store worker, related that Reedy came to his convenience store on Dec. 4, 2001. Reedy began to tell Papick that he might have murdered someone. Papick admitted that he did not call the police after his conversation with Reedy. He did not believe Reedy’s statement about a murder. Dr. David M. Glassman, chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State), testified as an expert in forensic anthropology. He testified that his examination showed that from the pattern and direction of how the bone was ripped both on the outside and inside, and from the shape of the defect, the fracture was consistent with a blunt-type trauma as opposed to either a sharp or high-velocity trauma like a gunshot wound. Raul Guajardo, a consultant and owner of the Forensic Chemical Services and Consulting Company, testified that a hatchet or other instrument used to kill another human being should have traces of blood, tissue, and biological matter on it, but these could disappear when exposed to the elements. HOLDING:Reversed and acquittal rendered. The evidence in the case, the court found, contained a number of inferences that do not by themselves constitute proof of guilt. A jury may not reasonably infer an ultimate fact from meager circumstantial evidence that simply raises a number of inferences, none more probable than another, the court stated. To be legitimate and permissible, the court stated, an inference must be a logical consequence of the facts present in evidence, and there must be a logical and rational connection between the facts in evidence and the fact inferred. The stacking of inference upon inference is not considered evidence, the court stated. Proof that amounts to only a strong suspicion of guilt or a mere probability of guilt is insufficient to sustain a conviction, the court stated. Moreover, mere opportunity to commit a crime does not tend to establish the fact of the accused’s commission of the charged crime. It is the function of appellate courts, the court stated, to ensure that no one is convicted of a crime except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt and thereby ensure due process. The court held that given all the evidence, the verdict was unsupported by proof of all the essential elements of either mode of the offense charged. The 14th Amendment guarantee of due process, the court stated, requires it reverse the jury verdict and order an acquittal. OPINION:Law, C.J.; Law, C.J.; B. A. Smith and Puryear, J.J.

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