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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On March 17, 2004, two men robbed the clerk at a Cash 2 U store in Woodville. The clerk did not see them pull up to the store in a car. The two men held the clerk at gunpoint and demanded money. They then took her to the back of the store and tied her hands and feet with duct tape. Police quickly arrived after the robbers departed and took a statement from the clerk. Across the street, in a grocery store parking lot, another witness was almost hit by a red, four-door Dodge speeding across the parking lot. She gave the police a description of the vehicle and a man who she saw jump in the car. That description was broadcast to officers. A game warden heard the broadcast and soon spotted a small red vehicle heading out of town. As the warden turned around to follow it in his marked patrol truck, the vehicle accelerated. The warden radioed the license plate to the dispatcher and learned that this was the type of vehicle the witness had described. Eventually, the vehicle pulled over and quickly came to a complete stop. The game warden activated his emergency lights. The front seat passenger got out of the car and fired a shot at him but missed. The game warden returned fire, and the passengers fled into the woods. Hooper, the driver, remained in the vehicle when the others exited. Hooper opened the door and jumped onto the ground, yelling at the game warden not to shoot or kill him. Hooper never tried to run, had no weapons on his person, followed all the warden’s instructions and never gave any of the officers who later arrived any trouble. A jury convicted Reginald Hooper of aggravated assault of a public servant and sentenced him to 30 years of imprisonment. The state presented evidence at the guilt phase of the trial that Hooper was the getaway driver from an aggravated robbery and that a passenger in Hooper’s vehicle, one of the robbers, shot at a game warden while trying to flee. Hooper appealed, asserting that legally and factually insufficient evidence supported his conviction and that the trial court misdirected the jury about the law regarding weapons findings and parole eligibility. Addressing only the legal sufficiency claim, the 10th Court of Appeals reversed the guilty verdict and rendered a judgment of acquittal after finding the evidence legally insufficient to support Hooper’s conviction. Chief Justice Tom Gray of the 10th Court dissented. He argued that the verdict was not irrational, because any inferences necessary to support the conviction were reasonable and supported by the record. The Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) granted review to determine whether the 10th Court erred in holding that legally insufficient evidence support Hooper’s conviction. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. To find Hooper guilty of aggravated assault of a public servant, the CCA stated, the law requires that a jury determine beyond a reasonable doubt that either: 1. Hooper intended to promote or assist in the aggravated assault of the warden; or 2. The aggravated assault was committed by one of the conspirators in furtherance of carrying out the conspiracy to commit the aggravated robbery or another felony and that Hooper should have anticipated that aggravated assault of a public servant could result from carrying out the conspiracy. The 10th Court, however, held that the evidence was insufficient because “there was no direct evidence to establish Hooper’s knowledge of [the shooter's] violent propensity or of [either co-conspirator's] intent to evade arrest by shooting at [the game warden].” The 10th Court further stated that to reach the guilty verdict, the jury would have had to infer that Hooper was the driver of the getaway vehicle and that he “knew or was on notice � and thus should have anticipated” that his co-conspirator would shoot at a public servant. The CCA stated its disagreement with this reasoning. Knowledge of a co-conspirator’s violent propensity or intent to commit aggravated assault, the court stated, is not an element of the offense at issue under either theory of party liability; thus, the lack of evidence of such knowledge is not dispositive of sufficiency. The court also stated that circumstantial evidence alone could be sufficient to find guilt. The CCA also addressed whether a rule against “inference stacking” applied to the case. The CCA stated that the rule evolved in civil cases. But the rule is not appropriate in Texas criminal jurisprudence, the CCA stated. OPINION:Meyers, J., delivered the opinion of the unanimous court.

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