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Date: 11-10-2017

Case Style:

Juan Francisco Huerta Jr. v. The State of Texas

Juan Francisco Huerta, 23, faces a murder charge in the death of Abraham Villalobos

Case Number: 04-17-00157-CR

Judge: Sandee Bryan Marion

Court: Court of Appeals - 4th District | Bexar County, TX

Plaintiff's Attorney: Nicholas LaHood
Alice Morgan

Defendant's Attorney:

James C. Oltersdorf

Description: In his brief, Huerta discounts the testimony of the witnesses present during his altercation
with Abraham because the witnesses were intoxicated. The following summarizes two of those
witnesses’ testimony.
Jose Villalobos, Abraham’s younger brother, testified his girlfriend, Shantey Sanchez, his
girlfriend’s sister May, and Huerta were all living at his house the night Abraham was killed. At
the time, May was dating Huerta, but she previously dated Abraham. Jose, Shantey, May, and
Huerta were at home on February 29, 2016, when Abraham stopped by to visit. After about twenty
minutes, Huerta and Abraham began arguing. Jose testified Shantey was in the kitchen when the
argument started. Jose heard Abraham telling Huerta something about Huerta looking at Matilda,
Abraham’s girlfriend, who was not present at that time. Jose grabbed Abraham and pulled him
down on the couch beside him. A short time later, Abraham got back up from the coach,
approached Huerta, and again asked Huerta about his looking at Matilda. Jose again grabbed
Abraham and told him to sit down or go home. Abraham picked up his box of beer and went out
the front door to his car. Shantey followed Abraham to his car while Jose followed them to the
end of the patio. May and Huerta remained inside the house. Abraham started his car and began
to drive away. When Abraham saw Huerta in the doorway, however, he drove back into the
driveway, and Huerta ran towards the driver’s side of Abraham’s car. Abraham tried to open the
door, but Huerta used his knee to keep the door closed. Jose testified Huerta appeared to be
punching Abraham through the open window while Abraham was defending himself and trying to
hit Huerta back. Jose did not see a knife, but Shantey told Jose that Abraham was bleeding. After
Huerta stopped punching Abraham, Huerta ran back inside the house. Jose went inside and asked
Huerta why he stabbed Abraham. Huerta did not respond but looked scared.
04-17-00157-CR


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Shantey testified she heard Abraham saying something to Huerta but she could not recall
the interaction. She later recalled Abraham was arguing with Huerta about Huerta looking at
Matilda. Shantey testified she was in the living room during the argument. She remembered Jose
telling Abraham to leave because he was arguing with Huerta. She also remembered Abraham
reversing out of the driveway and then pulling back into the driveway; however, Shantey testified
she remained inside the house. Shantey saw Huerta run out the front door and saw Huerta punching
Abraham who was still inside his car. She did not see Huerta with a knife. She told Jose that
Abraham and Huerta were fighting, but Jose and May remained seated. When Shantey approached
the car, Abraham told her he had been stabbed. Huerta was standing by the car. When Shantey
asked Huerta what he did to Abraham, Huerta did not respond, but his hands were full of blood.
Shantey called 911 and did not notice where Huerta went.
Abraham died as a result of the stab wounds, and the jury convicted Huerta of murder. STANDARD OF REVIEW
In evaluating the legal sufficiency of the evidence, we consider the evidence in the light
most favorable to the verdict and determine whether, based on the evidence and reasonable
inferences therefrom, any rational trier of fact could have found the defendant guilty of all of the
elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979);
Johnson v. State, 509 S.W.3d 320, 322 (Tex. Crim. App. 2017). Under this standard, we defer to
the jury’s weighing of the evidence and its assessment of credibility. Balderas v. State, 517 S.W.3d
756, 766 (Tex. Crim. App. 2016); Winfrey v. State, 393 S.W.3d 763, 768 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013).
We also defer to the jury’s ability to “‘draw reasonable inferences from basic facts to ultimate
facts.’” Hooper v. State, 214 S.W.3d 9, 13 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007) (quoting Jackson, 443 U.S. at
318-19). In drawing inferences from the evidence, the jury “may use common sense and apply
04-17-00157-CR


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common knowledge, observation, and experience.” Acosta v. State, 429 S.W.3d 621, 625 (Tex.
Crim. App. 2014).
DISCUSSION
On appeal, Huerta argues Jose’s and Shantey’s testimony is insufficient to support his
conviction because they “were probably too intoxicated at the time of the murder to remember it.”
Huerta focuses on Officer Vincent Giardino’s testimony that Jose appeared very intoxicated and
Shantey also had been drinking. Huerta also focuses on evidence that conflicts with Jose’s and
Shantey’s testimony including Officer Giardino’s report that Jose was the only witness and that
the argument between Huerta and Abraham was about Abraham looking at May.
As previously noted, we defer to the jury’s weighing of the evidence and its assessment of
credibility. Balderas, 517 S.W.3d at 766; Winfrey, 393 S.W.3d at 768. Although conflicting
evidence was presented, the jury could have believed Jose’s and Shantey’s testimony regarding
the manner in which Huerta stabbed Abraham especially given the other testimony that supported
their version of the events.
When the investigating officers arrived at the scene, they found Abraham fully seated in
his car as if intending to drive off. The photographs show a lot of blood on the inside of the driver’s
side door and the left side of the driver’s side seat from Abraham’s wounds; however, very little
blood was outside the car. From this evidence, the jury could have inferred that Huerta stabbed
Abraham through the open window of the car while the door was closed especially given the
minimal amount of blood on Huerta’s clothing and arm. That blood matched Abraham’s blood.
In addition, the medical examiner testified Abraham’s stab wounds were consistent with him being
stabbed through an open window while seated in a car by a person standing outside the car.
Although a closed pocketknife was found clipped to Abraham’s belt and another knife was found
underneath Abraham when he was removed from the car, the medical examiner testified Abraham
04-17-00157-CR


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had two defensive cut wounds on his left arm which was closest to the location where Huerta
would be standing, while Huerta was not injured. Finally, Huerta gave inconsistent statements
during his interview, but admitted stabbing Abraham. See Guevara v. State, 152 S.W.3d 45, 50
(Tex. Crim. App. 2004) (noting inconsistent statements are circumstances of guilt). Huerta also
fled the scene after the stabbing and told the officers who detained him that he stabbed Abraham
and threw away the knife. See Clayton v. State, 235 S.W.3d 772, 780 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007)
(noting “factfinder may draw an inference of guilt from the circumstance of flight”); Guevara, 152
S.W.3d at 50 (noting attempts to conceal incriminating evidence is a circumstance of guilt).
Although Huerta provided the officers with various locations where he might have thrown the
knife, the knife was never recovered, and one officer testified “it seemed as though [Huerta] was
just sending me on a wild goose chase.”

Outcome: Having reviewed the record as a whole and deferring to the jury’s evaluation of the credibility of the witnesses and the inferences to be drawn from the evidence, we hold the evidence is sufficient to support Huerta’s conviction.
The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:

Comments:



 
 
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