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Date: 09-16-2019

Case Style:

Ex parte Maurice Edwards

Case Number: 01-19-00100-CR

Judge: Julie Countiss

Court: Court of Appeals For The First District of Texas

Plaintiff's Attorney: Clinton A. Morgan
Daniel C. McCrory
The Honorable Kim K Ogg
Tiffany C Larsen

Defendant's Attorney:

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On November 16, 2017, a Harris County Grand Jury issued a true bill of
indictment, accusing appellant of committing the felony offense of aggravated
sexual assault on or about May 2, 2003. Appellant filed a verified application for a
writ of habeas corpus asserting that his confinement and restraint were illegal
because the statute of limitations barred prosecution for the alleged offense in
violation of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Article I
section 10 of the Texas Constitution, and Article 12.01 of the Texas Code of
Criminal Procedure.2 Relator sought “dismissal of the charge as being outside the
statute of limitations.”
The trial court held a hearing on appellant’s application. Appellant offered,
and the trial court admitted into evidence without objection, a copy of the complaint,
the indictment, article 12.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, and a

1 See TEX. PENAL CODE ANN. § 22.021(a); see also TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. arts. 12.01(2)(E), 12.03(d). 2 See U.S. CONST. amend VI; TEX. CONST. art. I, § 10; TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. arts. 12.01(2)(E), 12.03(d).


3

Houston Police Department (“HPD”) offense report. The parties “stipulat[ed] to
the facts that [were] in the offense report” for the purposes of the hearing.
In the report, HPD Officer B.K. Foley states that, on May 2, 2003, he “was
dispatched to a sexual assault [that had] just occurred,” and upon his arrival, “the
complainant was at the scene” and the perpetrator was not present. He spoke with
the complainant, who said that the alleged perpetrator’s name was “Maurice” and
she “[did] not know his last name or phone number off hand,” had met him when
she worked at “Moments Cabaret,” and had “gone out with [him] a few times.” On
the day of the sexual assault, she “called [Maurice] to come and pick her up from a
friend[’]s house” and he “was going to eventually give her a ride to [a convenience
store] where her boyfriend was supposed to be waiting.” However, Maurice drove
past the store and “into an apartment complex,” where the complainant “tried to get
out of the vehicle” as Maurice began “grabbing her and hitting her.” When the
complainant tried to get away, Maurice started to choke her. Maurice then “took
her clothes [off] and had sex with her.”
Emergency personnel transported the complainant to a hospital “to have a
rape kit done.” Officer Foley “ran the license plate [number] of [Maurice’s]
vehicle,” which two witnesses at the scene had given to him. The information he
received from “r[unning] the license plate [number]” indicated that “there was a
city warrant on the vehicle for a Maurice Edwards[, date of birth] 11-13-77,” along
4

with a Texas driver’s license number. Foley then “ran the criminal history on
[Maurice Edwards] and the [information] matched” the information that the
complainant had given. In his report, Foley identified “one possible suspect” as
“Edwards, Maurice Ellis.” Foley also noted that the complainant “was very
hysterical and hard to interview,” “often did not answer questions and appeared to
not be telling the whole truth about her relationship with [Maurice] and how they
met both originally and [the day of the sexual assault],” and “often tried to change
the subject and appeared to be withholding information.”
On May 6, 2003, HPD Officer L.D. Garretson, who had been assigned to the
investigation, supplemented the offense report to state that there had not been a
supplement made “regarding the recovery/tagging of the complainant’s sexual
assault kit into the HPD property room.” On May 15, 2003, HPD Officer M.
Walding supplemented the offense report to state that he had stopped a car that
matched the description of Maurice’s car, the driver “was identified as Tommie C.
Lewis,” and “[t]he passenger claimed he was Jason Lewis.” When Walding asked
Tommie “when he last saw Maurice,” Tommie answered “about a year ago.”
Walding called the complainant, who stated that “this was obvious[ly] a lie,” and
she advised Walding that neither of the men “fit the description” of Maurice.
On May 16, 2003, Officer Garretson reviewed “[the] complainant’s sexual
assault examination forensic report forms for [submission] to the HPD crime lab for
5

DNA analysis and comparison purposes.” In his supplement to the offense report,
he noted that the complainant had not attempted to contact him and had not
responded to the “Sex Crimes Unit Contact Letter” that he had sent to her.
According to Garretson, “[u]ntil this contact” from the complainant was received,
the status of the investigation was “case cleared due to lack of prosecution by [the]
complainant.”
A November 7, 2013 supplement to the offense report reflects that laboratory
testing “in association with a request for outsourced – DNA analysis” was
completed. And a February 5, 2014 supplement to the offense report shows that a
laboratory analysis “in association with a request for CODIS analysis” was
completed.3
On April 13, 2014, HPD Officer J. Lewis supplemented the offense report to
state that, on March 13, 2014, he had received the case “for further investigation
regarding a CODIS match confirmation.” HPD Officer N. Vo updated the offense
report on August 22, 2017. He stated that he had interviewed the complainant, who
“positively identified [Maurice] through [a] photo[graphic] array even though the

3 “CODIS” stands for “Combined DNA Index System.” Segundo v. State, 270 S.W.3d 79, 83 n.3 (Tex. Crim. App. 2008); see also TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 411.141 (“‘CODIS’ means the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System” and “includes the national DNA index system sponsored by the FBI”). Williams v. State, No. 09-14-00463-CR, 2017 WL 1455962, at *1 n.1 (Tex. App.—Beaumont Apr. 19, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op., not designated for publication) (describing CODIS as “the combined DNA electronic database system that houses DNA profiles from different sources”).
6

[sexual assault] happened 13 years ago.” He further stated that the Harris County
District Attorney’s Office had “advised that charges for aggravated sexual assault
were accepted” and a search warrant for buccal swabs from Maurice, who “[was]
currently in jail for another charge,” would be obtained.
On September 20, 2017, Officer Vo obtained two buccal swabs from
appellant and submitted them for DNA analysis and comparison “to the male DNA
that was found in the complainant’s sexual assault kit.” In a November 1, 2017
supplement to the offense report, Vo noted that the laboratory results from the
buccal swabs were still pending. “However, the case [had] been thoroughly
investigated” and charges had been filed. On November 16, 2017, the grand jury
issued a true bill of indictment, accusing appellant of committing the felony offense
of aggravated sexual assault on or about May 2, 2003.
No other evidence was offered or admitted at the hearing, and no witnesses
testified. In response to appellant’s habeas application, the State argued that, under
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 12.01(1)(C)(i), no statute of limitations
applied to the instant case because biological matter was collected during the
investigation and subjected to forensic DNA testing, and the testing results “[did]
not match [the complainant] or any other person whose identity [was] readily
ascertained.” According to the State, the crux of the issue “boil[ed] down to the
proper definition of ‘readily ascertained’” and appellant “was absolutely
7

ascertainable” but was not “readily ascertained,” as the statute required for no
statute of limitations to apply.4 The State asserted that it “did not have the link to
[appellant] based on his DNA until 2014,” and “[w]ithout a DNA profile being
obtained from the testing of the [sexual assault] kit, a suspect, under the law, has
not been readily ascertained.” In other words, appellant was not “readily
ascertained to a point where the State believed that it had gathered enough evidence
sufficient to prove [its] case beyond a reasonable doubt until the CODIS hit and the
subsequent identification of [appellant] out of [the photographic array] by the
complainant, which did not occur until 2017.”
In contrast, appellant argued that the prosecution was time barred because the
ten-year statute of limitations5 applied to the instant case and he was not “indicted
until 2017,” which was “beyond” the ten-year statute of limitations period. As to
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 12.01(1)(C)(i), appellant argued that
“[t]he question [was] whether or not he [could have] been ascertained on the date
that the DNA [results] came back,” he could have been ascertained by looking at
the offense report, and his “identity [was] actually ascertained on the date that the
DNA [testing] was done.”

4 See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 12.01(1)(C)(i). 5 See id. arts. 12.01(2)(E), 12.03(d).
8

At the end of the hearing, the trial court stated that appellant “was known at
the time.” But also that “‘ascertainable’ . . . means a little bit more than reasonable
suspicion”; and “without [the complainant’s] cooperation” and “putting [appellant]
in a photo spread,” the HPD officers were not “able to ascertain [appellant] at the
time” and he was not “readily ascertainable at the time.” The trial court denied
appellant’s application for a writ of habeas corpus.
Standard of Review
A pretrial writ of habeas corpus is an extraordinary remedy. Ex parte Ingram,
533 S.W.3d 887, 891 (Tex. Crim. App. 2017); see Ex parte Arango, 518 S.W.3d
916, 924 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2017, pet. ref’d) (explaining proper use
of pretrial habeas relief is where “conservation of judicial resources would be better
served by interlocutory review” (internal quotations and citation omitted)). A
defendant may use a pretrial writ in very limited circumstances, including to
challenge a court’s jurisdiction if the face of the indictment shows that the statute of
limitations bars a prosecution. Ex parte Smith, 178 S.W.3d 797, 802 (Tex. Crim.
App. 2005); Ex parte Tamez, 38 S.W.3d 159, 160 (Tex. Crim. App. 2001).
Limitations is an absolute bar to prosecution. See Ex parte Smith, 178 S.W.3d at
802.
The applicant for a writ of habeas corpus has the burden to establish his
entitlement to relief by preponderance of the evidence. Kniatt v. State, 206 S.W.3d
9

657, 664 (Tex. Crim. App. 2006). We review the trial court’s ruling on a pretrial
application for a writ of habeas corpus for an abuse of discretion. See id.; Ex parte
Arango, 518 S.W.3d at 923–24; Washington v. State, 326 S.W.3d 701, 704 (Tex.
App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2010, no pet.). In conducting this review, we view the
facts in the light most favorable to the trial court’s ruling and defer to the trial court’s
implied factual findings that are supported by the record. See Kniatt, 206 S.W.3d at
664; Washington, 326 S.W.3d at 704. When the resolution of the ultimate issue
turns on an application of purely legal standards, our review is de novo. See Ex parte
Martin, 6 S.W.3d 524, 526 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999); Ex parte Leachman, 554 S.W.3d
730, 737 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2018, pet. ref’d).
Limitations
In his sole issue, appellant argues that the trial court erred in denying his
requested relief because the State did not provide the “statutorily required evidence,
such as forensic DNA testing results, that [were] necessary to trigger the article
12.01(1)(C) exception to the ten-year . . . statute of limitations” for the offense of
aggravated sexual assault and appellant’s identity was “readily ascertained” in
2003.
Generally, the statute of limitations for the offense of aggravated sexual
assault of an adult is ten years from the date of the commission of the offense. See
TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. arts. 12.01(2)(E), 12.03(d); see also Ex parte
10

Goodbread, 967 S.W.2d 859, 865 (Tex. Crim. App. 1998). But there is no statute
of limitations if “during the investigation of the offense biological matter is
collected and subjected to forensic DNA testing and the testing results show that
the matter does not match the victim or any other person whose identity is readily
ascertained.” TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 12.01(1)(C)(i); see Ex parte
Montgomery, No. 14-17-00025-CR, 2017 WL 3271088, at *3 (Tex. App.—
Houston [14th Dist.] Aug. 1, 2017, pet. ref’d) (mem. op., not designated for
publication) (explaining aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault have same
limitations period and limitations period for sexual assault is eliminated if article
12.01(1)(C)(i) requirements are satisfied); cf. Dallas Cty. Dist. Attorney’s Office v.
Hoogerwerf, No. 2-05-034-CV, 2005 WL 3436557, at *2 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth
Dec. 15, 2005, no pet.) (mem. op.) (explaining statute of limitations for offense of
sexual assault “where the identity of the assailant is readily ascertained” is ten years
from commission of offense). Article 12.01(1)(C)(i) does not impose “a duty on
the State to look for a match” or a temporal limit on the investigation. See Ex parte
Lovings, 480 S.W.3d 106, 111–12 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2015, no pet.).
Nevertheless, each of the three prongs set forth in article 12.01(1)(C)(i) must be met
for there to be no limitations period for the offense. See Ex parte S.B.M., 467
S.W.3d 715, 719 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2015, no pet.).
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Here, appellant does not dispute that biological matter was collected and
subjected to forensic DNA testing. See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art.
12.01(1)(C)(i). Rather, he asserts that the evidence presented at the habeas hearing
did not include forensic DNA testing results or reports to show that the biological
matter collected and tested did not match any person whose identity was readily
ascertained as article 12.01(1)(C)(i) requires. See id.; Ex parte S.B.M., 467 S.W.3d
at 719. Specifically, appellant asserts that the record does not include any “CODIS
type evidence” or “Crime Lab analysis report.” The State responds that “the
forensic DNA testing results show[ed] that the biological material collected did not
match the [complainant] or any other person whose identity is readily ascertained,
in this case [appellant].” (Emphasis omitted.)
At the hearing, the parties stipulated to the facts contained in the HPD offense
report that the trial court admitted into evidence without objection. That offense
report showed that emergency personnel transported the complainant to a hospital
“to have a rape kit done,” a “rape/sexual assault kit” was submitted for forensic
testing, and laboratory testing was completed “in association with a request for
outsourced – DNA analysis” and “a request for CODIS analysis.” In April 2014,
Officer Lewis received the case “for further investigation regarding a CODIS match
confirmation.” In 2017, Officer Vo interviewed the complainant, who identified
appellant in a photographic array. Vo also obtained two buccal swabs from
12

appellant and requested a DNA analysis of the buccal swabs and a comparison of
“the DNA to the male DNA that was found in the complainant’s sexual assault kit.”
Article 12.01(1)(C)(i) requires “testing results” of forensic DNA testing of
the collected biological matter. See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art.
12.01(1)(C)(i); Ex parte S.B.M., 467 S.W.3d at 719; see also TEX. GOV’T CODE
ANN. § 411.141 (defining, for purposes of state DNA database, “DNA record” as
“results of a forensic DNA analysis performed by a DNA laboratory,” including “a
DNA profile and related records”). The testing results are necessary to show that
the tested biological matter did not match the complainant or any person whose
identity is readily ascertained. See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 12.01(1)(C)(i).
Evidence showing the assignment of the case for further investigation
“regarding a CODIS match confirmation” and a request to analyze appellant’s
buccal swabs for comparison to “the male DNA that was found in the complainant’s
sexual assault kit” does not constitute evidence of forensic DNA testing results to
show that the biological matter collected in the complainant’s “sexual assault kit”
did or did not match a person whose identity is not readily ascertained. See Ex parte
S.B.M., 467 S.W.3d at 719 (concluding article 12.01(1)(C)(i) did not apply when
biological matter was collected and tested but testing results were not attainable);
cf. Ex parte Lovings, 480 S.W.3d at 108 (noting DNA analysis identified DNA of
complainant and male donor, and CODIS provided “‘hit’ between appellant’s DNA
13

and the DNA of the male donor”). We conclude that the record in the instant case
does not support a conclusion that article 12.01(1)(C)(i) applies.
We note that, in the trial court, the parties focused on the meaning of “readily
ascertained” and the trial court concluded that appellant was not “readily
ascertainable at the time.” The statute requires forensic DNA testing results that
“show that the matter does not match the victim or any other person whose identity
is readily ascertained,” not “readily ascertainable.” See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC.
ANN. art. 12.01(1)(C)(i); Ex parte Lovings, 480 S.W.3d at 112. However, we need
not determine in the instant case whether and when appellant’s identity was “readily
ascertained” because there is no statutorily required evidence of forensic DNA
testing results.6 See TEX. R. APP. P. 47.1. Accordingly, we hold that the trial court
erred in denying appellant’s application for a writ of habeas corpus.
We sustain appellant’s issue.7

Outcome: We reverse the order of the trial court denying appellant habeas relief, grant
the requested habeas relief, and remand the case to the trial court for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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