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Date: 02-23-2020

Case Style:

John White v. The State of Texas

Case Number: 03-18-00110-CR

Judge: Jeff Rose

Court: TEXAS COURT OF APPEALS, THIRD DISTRICT, AT AUSTIN

Plaintiff's Attorney: The Honorable Stacey M. Soule
Mr. Ben Moore
Mr. Raphael A. Guerrero

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White was charged with murdering Campos by stabbing or striking him to death
during an early-morning attack in a residential area. For about a month and a half before the
attack, White had been living at his co-worker Mauricio Rodriguez-Frias’s house along with
White’s half-brother, Edward Rios; and Rodriguez-Frias’s two stepdaughters, Sabrina
Sepulveda1 and Stephanie Sepulveda.2
In the hours before the attack, White and Rodriguez-Frias went to a bar where
they drank and did cocaine in the bathroom. While at the bar, Rodriguez-Frias saw Campos, a
man that he knew but that White did not. Campos asked Rodriguez-Frias for a ride home. On
the way, Campos suggested that they all continue drinking beers at Rodriguez-Frias’s house
instead. During the car ride, Rodriguez-Frias became upset when remembering that Campos’s
brothers used to beat him up and spit in his face when they lived in Mexico.
White, Campos, and Rodriguez-Frias arrived at Rodriguez-Frias’s house about
midnight, where they continued drinking and talking for about an hour. Rodriguez-Frias and
Campos began arguing and then physically fighting. Rios, who was inside the house, testified
that Sabrina called him to help break up the fight. Rios saw White kick Campos in the head and
saw Rodriguez-Frias hitting Campos. White denied fighting with Campos “at the beginning,”
but he recalled that Rodriguez-Frias pulled out a knife sometime during the fight. Sabrina stated
that she and Rios were able to separate White and Rodriguez-Frias from Campos.
Campos ran from the house and hopped some fences. White and Rodriguez-Frias
pursued him and resumed fighting at a location down the street. White and Rodriguez-Frias

1 Sabrina Sepulveda was also John White’s ex-girlfriend.

2 Stephanie Sepulveda was also Edward Rios’s girlfriend.
3

returned to the house three times and left again to fight with Campos, but Campos never
returned. The last time that White and Rodriguez-Frias returned to the house, they had blood on
their clothing. Rodriguez-Frias packed a suitcase and left.
Later that morning, a child riding a school bus saw a body in a ditch and reported
the sighting to his mother. The mother went to the area that her son described, discovered the
body of a deceased male, and called police. Police identified the deceased as Campos and
interviewed White.
White gave police detectives several videotaped statements, admitted into
evidence, with varying versions of his involvement in Campos’s attack. When asked what he
was angry about, White said that Campos “was talking shit about my brother’s [Rios’s] girlfriend
[Stephanie].” According to White, Campos told him, “your sister-in-law is fine” and “I wanna
rape her.” White said that after Campos hopped the fence, he and Rodriguez-Frias went looking
for him, with White on foot and Rodriguez-Frias in a car. Once they found him, they “beat the
guy up a little bit, left him right there, then [they] came back to the house.” After Rodriguez
Frias heard dogs barking, he told White, “I think he’s still there,” and they got in a car to look for
Campos. White said that while they were in the car, Rodriguez-Frias told him that when he
found Campos, he was going to kill him. They did not find him while driving, so they went back
to the house, left the car, and went looking for him on foot. Rodriguez-Frias walked through
backyards, and White walked in the area of the street.
White said they found Campos “in the ditch where we had left him before.” He
then explained that they had left him “on the road and he probably like went down to the ditch so
we couldn’t find him.” When Campos saw them, he got up and started to run, but Rodriguez
Frias tripped him and “we were beating him up.” White saw Campos “just laying there” in the
4

ditch “having problems breathing.” Then White told Rodriguez-Frias, “You know what, I’m
done, and I wanna go back.” White began walking away with Rodriguez-Frias following him.
Then Rodriguez-Frias mumbled something to White and returned to Campos.
White said that when he looked back he saw Rodriguez-Frias with Campos, about eight to ten
feet away, and Rodriguez-Frias was moving his arms and White was “pretty sure that he
[Rodriguez-Frias] was stabbing him [Campos].” White said that he was “pretty sure” that
Campos was unconscious. White walked home and changed his clothes, which he said had
blood on them but not “excessive blood, I just had like a couple of drops.” White told Sabrina,
“I think Mauricio killed him,” but White did not call law enforcement or seek assistance for
Campos.
White later told detectives what he had been planning when he and Rodriguez
Frias went looking for Campos:

Detective: When y’all went to look for him in the car, what was the plan then?

White: Uh to find him, just beat him up, and maybe just . . .

Detective: What?

White: . . . kill him.

Detective: The plan was to go kill him?

White: Yeah.

. . . .

Detective: You guys went down there to kill the guy, right?

White: Yeah.

5

Detective: I mean that was the whole point. How did you think you were gonna do it? What was your plan? I mean, you’re mad, you gotta have some plan you’re gonna do—

White: I was just gonna straight up beat him up, beat him up, until, you know—

Detective: ’Til he died?

White: Yeah.


A medical examiner determined that Campos sustained multiple stab wounds,
including one to his heart. The medical examiner ruled Campos’s death a homicide caused by
“stab wounds with blunt force injuries as contributory factors.” Blood stains on White’s shorts
and shoes underwent forensic testing. A DNA analyst testified that the DNA profile from a stain
on the front of the shorts was consistent with the DNA profile of Campos. Another forensic
scientist testified that she obtained a DNA profile from the shoe and that Rodriguez-Frias and
White were excluded as contributors of that single-source DNA profile, but Campos could not be
excluded as the contributor.
After the parties rested their cases, the jury received a charge addressing the three
legal theories from White’s indictment by which he could be found guilty—acting alone or as a
party—of Campos’s murder. See Tex. Penal Code § 19.02(b)(1)-(3). White made no objections
to the court’s charge. The jury returned a general verdict finding White guilty of murder, and he
was sentenced to thirty years’ imprisonment. This appeal followed.


6

DISCUSSION
Charge errors In his first four appellate issues, White complains about errors in the jury charge.
We review alleged jury-charge error in two steps: first, we determine whether error exists; and if
so, we evaluate whether any harm resulting from such error requires reversal. See Arteaga v.
State, 521 S.W.3d 329, 333 (Tex. Crim. App. 2017); Price v. State, 457 S.W.3d 437, 440 (Tex.
Crim. App. 2015) (citing Almanza v. State, 686 S.W.2d 157, 171 (Tex. Crim. App. 1985) (op. on
reh’g)); Ngo v. State, 175 S.W.3d 738, 743 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005).
The trial court must deliver to the jury a written charge distinctly setting forth the
law applicable to the case. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 36.14. Jury instructions must apply the
law to the facts adduced at trial and conform to allegations in the indictment. Sanchez v. State,
376 S.W.3d 767, 773 (Tex. Crim. App. 2012). Those instructions should be reduced to the
theories that are supported by the evidence at trial. Moulton v. State, 395 S.W.3d 804, 810 (Tex.
Crim. App. 2013).
White was charged with murder under the law of parties. The law of parties
provides that “[a] person is criminally responsible as a party to an offense if the offense is
committed by his own conduct, by the conduct of another for which he is criminally responsible,
or by both.” Tex. Penal Code § 7.01(a). A person’s participation as a party may be shown by
events occurring before, during, and after the commission of the offense, and may be
demonstrated by actions showing an understanding and common design to do the prohibited act.
Salinas v. State, 163 S.W.3d 734, 739-40 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005); see Briggs v. State, No. 03
11-00275-CR, 2012 Tex. App. LEXIS 7131, at *44 (Tex. App.—Austin Aug. 24, 2012, no pet.)
(mem. op., not designated for publication). Circumstantial evidence may be used to prove a
7

person’s status as a party to an offense. Beltran v. State, 472 S.W.3d 283, 290 (Tex. Crim. App.
2015).
The jury charge in this case addressed the law of parties in a section titled
“Responsibility for Conduct of Another.” This section quoted the law of parties from the Penal
Code and instructed the jury on two theories of party liability: “intent to promote and assist” and
conspiracy. Id. §§ 7.01, .02(a)(2), (b). The first theory states that “[a] person is criminally
responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if, acting with intent to promote
or assist the commission of the offense, he solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid
the other person to commit the offense.” Id. § 7.02(a)(2). The second theory states that

[i]f, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to commit it, if the offense was committed in furtherance of the unlawful purpose and was one that should have been anticipated as a result of the carrying out of the conspiracy.


Id. § 7.02(b). At the end of this party-liability section, the charge stated, “A defendant is guilty
of an offense committed by another under the law set out here even if that other person has been
acquitted, has not been prosecuted or convicted, has been convicted of a different offense or of a
different type of offense, or is immune from prosecution.”

1. Abstract and application paragraphs of charge as to murder White now complains about error in the abstract and application paragraphs of the
charge. He contends that the abstract paragraph gave an incorrect description of what is required
to be a party to murder and did not instruct the jury that a defendant must intend the victim’s
death and the act clearly dangerous to human life. Further, he contends that the application
8

paragraph was erroneous because it “authorized his conviction as a party to murder on a legally
invalid basis” and because it did not instruct the jury that to be guilty as a party, he had to intend
Campos’s death and intend that Rodriguez-Frias commit an act clearly dangerous to human life.
The abstract paragraphs of a charge “serve as a glossary to help the jury
understand the meaning of concepts and terms used in the application paragraphs of the charge.”
Crenshaw v. State, 378 S.W.3d 460, 466 (Tex. Crim. App. 2012). The application paragraph is
the portion of the jury charge that applies the pertinent penal law, abstract definitions, and
general legal principles to the facts and indictment allegations of a given case. Cortez v. State,
469 S.W.3d 593, 598 (Tex. Crim. App. 2015).
Here, the abstract and application paragraphs of the jury charge addressed the
three legal theories from White’s indictment by which he could be found guilty—acting alone or
as a party—of Campos’s murder: (1) committing an intentional or knowing killing; (2) intending
to cause serious bodily injury and committing an act dangerous to human life resulting in death;
and (3) felony murder. See Tex. Penal Code § 19.02(b)(1)-(3). The charge included a definition
of aggravated assault, the underlying felony alleged for felony murder. See id. § 22.02. The
charge also defined the culpable mental states of “intentionally causing the death of an
individual,” “knowingly causing the death of an individual,” “intentionally causing serious
bodily injury,” and “knowingly causing bodily injury.” See id. § 6.03(a), (b).
The abstract paragraph of the charge addressed the elements of murder and
aggravated assault:
9

Relevant Statutes A person commits murder if the person—

1) intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual, or

2) intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual, or

3) commits or attempts to commit a felony, other than manslaughter, and in the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempt, or in immediate flight from the commission or attempt, he commits or attempts to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of murder as charged in the indictment, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, various elements. The elements are that—

1. a. the defendant, either acting alone or as a party, caused the death of an individual; and

b. did this intentionally or knowingly; and

c. used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of or immediate flight from this offense; or

2. a. the defendant, either acting alone or as a party, committed an act clearly dangerous to human life; and

b. this act caused the death of an individual; and

c. had the intent to cause serious bodily injury; and

d. used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of or immediate flight from this offense; or

3. a. the defendant, either acting alone or as a party, committed or attempted to commit a felony, other than manslaughter; and

b. in the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempt, or in immediate flight from the commission or attempt of that felony, committed or attempted to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life; and

10

c. the act clearly dangerous to human life caused the death of an individual; and

d. used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of or immediate flight from this offense.

A person commits aggravated assault if the person—
1) intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to another and uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault or

2) intentionally or knowingly causes serious bodily injury to another.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of aggravated assault, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, various elements. The elements are that—

1. a. the defendant, either acting alone or as a party, caused bodily injury to another; and

b. i. acted with intent to cause bodily injury or with knowledge that he would cause bodily injury;

ii. used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of or immediate flight from this offense; or

2. a. the defendant, either acting alone or as a party, caused serious bodily injury to another; and

b. did this intentionally or knowingly.

Aggravated assault is a felony.


The application paragraph of the charge stated:

Application of Law to Facts
You must determine whether the State has proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, various elements. The elements are that the defendant, either acting alone or as a party to the offense as described above, in Hays County, Texas, on or about September 29, 2014,

11

1. a. caused the death of Nicolas Campos by stabbing him with a knife or sharp object and

b. caused the death of Nicolas Campos either intentionally or knowingly; and

c. used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of or immediate flight from this offense or

2. a. committed an act clearly dangerous to human life by stabbing Nicolas Campos with a knife or sharp object and

b. caused the death of Nicolas Campos; and

c. intended to cause serious bodily injury to Nicolas Campos; and

d. used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of or immediate flight from this offense; or

3. a. committed or attempted to commit aggravated assault; and

b. in the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempted commission, or in immediate flight from the commission or attempted commission of aggravated assault, committed or attempted to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life by stabbing Nicolas Campos with a knife or sharp object; and

c. caused the death of Nicolas Campos; and

d. used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of or immediate flight from this offense.

You are instructed that aggravated assault is a felony other than manslaughter.

Before you may convict the defendant of murder, each of you must agree that the State has proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, all of the elements under 1., 2., or 3., listed above. All of you need not agree on which theory of murder applies, so long as each of you finds that all of the elements of one or more of the theories listed above have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you all agree the State has failed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, either 1., 2., or 3., listed above, you must find the defendant “not guilty” of Murder and so indicate on the Verdict Form.

12

If you all agree the State has proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, all of the elements under 1., 2., or 3., listed above, you must find the defendant “guilty” of Murder and so indicate on the Verdict Form.


Relying on Nava v. State, 415 S.W.3d 289, 299-300 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013),
White complains that the abstract and application paragraphs of the charge allowed the jury to
convict him as a party to murder without finding beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended
Campos’s death and intended that Rodriguez-Frias stab Campos. White states that intending to
assist another person in the offense of murder means intending both the death of the victim and
the unreasonably dangerous act, regardless of what is required of the principal actor. See id.
(“Combining the language of § 7.02(a)(2) with the felony-murder statute, then, requires an intent
to promote or assist, not only the commission of the underlying felony and the unreasonably
dangerous act, but also the result of the offense of felony murder—the death of an individual.”).
We agree that the charge contained this error.

2. Aggravated-assault instruction for felony murder White also contends that the charge was erroneous because the application
paragraph for felony murder allowed the jury to consider whether a deadly weapon was used or
exhibited in “immediate flight” from the assault. Thus, the jury was instructed that it could
convict White if he, acting as a party, caused bodily injury to Campos; acted with intent to cause
bodily injury; and Rodriguez-Frias used or exhibited a deadly weapon—during Campos’s assault
or—during White’s immediate flight from the offense. The State acknowledges that the
“immediate flight” phrase was erroneously included. We agree that the charge contained this
error.

13

3. Conspiracy instruction White further contends that the charge was erroneous because it provided the
definition of conspiracy under section 7.02(b) when setting forth the law of parties, but it did not
authorize the jury to convict on that basis by incorporating that theory into the application
paragraph of the charge.
When an unobjected-to charge includes abstract instructions on the law of parties
and the application paragraph incorporates those instructions by reference—authorizing the
defendant’s conviction based on a finding that he acted “alone or as a party”—the jury is
authorized to convict on the parties theory. See Greene v. State, 240 S.W.3d 7, 15 (Tex. App.—
Austin 2007, pet. ref’d); see also Marvis v. State, 36 S.W.3d 878, 880 (Tex. Crim. App. 2001)
(“[T]he use of the phrase ‘acting together’ in the application portion of the charge is a reference
to the abstract portion, which equates ‘acting together’ with ‘party’”); Chatman v. State, 846
S.W.2d 329, 332 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993) (concluding that “acting alone or as a party, as that
term has been defined,” generally applied law of parties to facts in application paragraph).
Here, the application paragraph did not expressly apply the abstract law of parties
to the facts of the case; rather, it incorporated the abstract paragraph on party liability by asking
the jury to consider White’s conduct “either acting alone or as a party to the offense as described
above[.]” The party-liability paragraph specified that “a defendant is guilty of an offense
committed by another under the law set out here” immediately after the instructions on the
“intent to promote and assist” and “conspiracy” theories of party liability. See Tex. Penal Code
§ 7.02(a)(2), (b). Thus, the application paragraph authorized White’s conviction for the murder
of Campos by White’s own conduct and by Rodriguez-Frias’s conduct for which White was
criminally responsible as a party under either theory of party liability. See Greene, 240 S.W.3d
14

at 15 (rejecting defendant’s contention that charge was inadequate to authorize his conviction
without directly applying law on criminal responsibility for conduct of co-conspirator to facts of
case in application paragraph). We conclude that there was no error in this portion of the charge.

4. Harm analysis Having found error in the jury charge, we must consider whether White was
egregiously harmed by such error. White acknowledges that he failed to object to any error in
the jury charge at trial.
When a defendant fails to object to the district court’s charge, any charge error
will not result in reversal of the conviction without a showing of egregious harm that deprived
the defendant of a fair and impartial trial. Chambers v. State, 580 S.W.3d 149, 154 (Tex. Crim.
App. 2019). Such harm must be actual and not merely theoretical. Id. Charge error is
considered egregiously harmful when it “affects the very basis of the case, deprives the
defendant of a valuable right, or vitally affects a defensive theory.” Arteaga, 521 S.W.3d at 338.
“Egregious harm is a ‘high and difficult standard’ to meet, and such a determination ‘must be
borne out by the trial record.’” Villarreal v. State, 453 S.W.3d 429, 433 (Tex. Crim. App. 2015)
(quoting Reeves v. State, 420 S.W.3d 812, 816 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013)). Overwhelming
evidence of guilt plays a determinative role in resolving the issue and may be considered when
assessing jury-charge error. Sanchez, 376 S.W.3d at 775. “In examining the record for
egregious harm, we consider the entire jury charge, the state of the evidence, the closing
arguments of the parties, and any other relevant information in the record.” Arteaga, 521 S.W.3d
at 338.
15

Initially, we note that unlike the jury charge in Nava, which addressed the
separate offenses of felony murder, theft, and attempted theft, this jury charge addressed the
single offense of murder as alleged under three alternative legal theories. Cf. 415 S.W.3d at 294.
When a jury charge alleges alternative theories, harm must be measured at least in part against
the likelihood that the jury’s verdict was actually based on an alternative available theory of
culpability that was not affected by erroneous portions of the charge. Sanchez, 376 S.W.3d at
775 (considering charge that presented jury with options of finding murder under sections
19.02(b)(1) or 19.02(b)(2) of Penal Code).
Thus, “[w]hen a jury returns a general guilty verdict on an indictment charging
alternate methods of committing the same offense, the verdict stands ‘if the evidence is sufficient
to support a finding under any of the theories submitted.’” Id. (quoting Kitchens v. State,
823 S.W.2d 256, 258 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991)); Aguirre v. State, 732 S.W.2d 320, 326 (Tex.
Crim. App. 1987) (“Since we have already found the evidence sufficient to support a conviction
under Section 19.02(a)(1) murder, we will not review the sufficiency of the evidence to show a
Section 19.02(a)(3) murder”); McDow v. State, No. 05-17-01201-CR, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS
5296, at *22 (Tex. App.—Dallas June 25, 2019, no pet.) (mem. op., not designated for
publication) (concluding that because evidence was sufficient to support defendant’s murder
convictions under sections 19.02(b)(1) and 19.02(b)(2), any error in jury charge as to felony
murder allegations under section 19.02(b)(3) did not cause defendant egregious harm); Fuentes
Sanchez v. State, No. 03-12-00281-CR, 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 4222, at *27 (Tex. App.—Austin
Apr. 17, 2014, no pet.) (mem. op., not designated for publication) (noting that charge permitted
jury to convict defendant “either acting alone or as a party to the aggravated-sexual-assault
offenses under at least one theory that was overwhelmingly supported by the evidence”); accord
16

Hedgpeth v. Pulido, 555 U.S. 57, 61 (2008) (“An instructional error arising in the context of
multiple theories of guilt no more vitiates all the jury’s findings than does omission or
misstatement of an element of the offense when only one theory is submitted.”); United States v.
Barraza, 655 F.3d 375, 382 (5th Cir. 2011) (noting that error may be harmless if jury, convicting
on invalid theory of guilt, necessarily found facts establishing guilt on valid theory).
Here, the jury had strong evidence to support White’s murder conviction under
section 19.02(b)(1) of the Penal Code, including evidence that:

• White saw that Rodriguez-Frias had a knife when the fight with Campos began outside the house;
• White knew Rodriguez-Frias wanted to kill Campos;
• White was angry at Campos;
• White joined Rodriguez-Frias in chasing and beating Campos;
• White helped Rodriguez-Frias look for Campos and planned to kill him;
• White saw Campos having difficulty breathing and possibly unconscious but left him there in the ditch;
• White intended to beat up Campos until he died; and
• Campos’s death was caused by “stab wounds with blunt force injuries as contributory factors.”


a. Entirety of the charge As to the entirety of the charge, the jury was instructed that White could be
convicted of murdering Campos based on White’s own conduct or as a party. See Tex. Penal
Code §§ 7.01, .02. We have noted that the charge contained error because the abstract and
application paragraphs of the charge allowed White’s murder conviction as a party without
17

requiring a finding beyond a reasonable doubt that White intended Campos’s death and that
White intended for Rodriguez-Frias to stab Campos, even as to the offense of felony murder.
See Nava, 415 S.W.3d at 299-300; cf. id. at 309 (Cochran, J., concurring) (“There is no such
thing as an intent to commit felony murder.”).
We have also noted that the application paragraph of the charge contained error
by instructing the jury that it could convict White of felony murder if he, acting as a party,
caused bodily injury to another; acted with intent to cause bodily injury; and that Rodriguez
Frias used or exhibited a deadly weapon during White’s immediate flight from the offense. But
as discussed further in our review of the “state of the evidence” factor, White was not
egregiously harmed by this error as to aggravated assault for felony murder under section
19.02(b)(3) because there was sufficient evidence supporting White’s conviction of murder
under section 19.02(b)(1). See McDow, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 5296, at *22 (concluding that
because evidence was sufficient to support defendant’s murder convictions under sections
19.02(b)(1) and 19.02(b)(2), any error in jury charge as to felony-murder allegations under
section 19.02(b)(3) did not cause defendant egregious harm).
Finally, we have noted that contrary to White’s contention, the charge did not fail
to incorporate the conspiracy theory of party liability—in addition to the “intent to promote and
assist” theory—in the application paragraph of the charge. Because the charge referenced
White’s conduct “either acting alone or as a party to the offense as described above” and because
the party-liability paragraph in turn, specified that “a defendant is guilty of an offense committed
by another under the law set out here,” the application paragraph in this charge authorized
White’s conviction based on his own conduct and based on Rodriguez-Frias’s conduct for which
White was criminally responsible under either theory of party liability. See Greene, 240 S.W.3d
18

at 15. Thus, we conclude that the entirety of the charge weighs only slightly in favor of a finding
of egregious harm.

b. State of the evidence
The evidence at trial against White was strong and mostly uncontested. Campos’s
DNA was present in the blood on White’s clothing. White’s own statements to detectives show
that although White initially sought to minimize his role in Campos’s death, he later
acknowledged that he was angry at Campos; joined Rodriguez-Frias in beating Campos; helped
Rodriguez-Frias look for Campos and planned to kill him; and intended to beat up Campos until
dead. White’s half-brother, Rios, testified that he saw White kick Campos in the head during the
fight outside the house. The medical examiner determined that Campos’s blunt force injuries
were contributory factors to his death. Further, the last time White saw Campos, he knew that
Campos was having difficulty breathing, was likely unconscious, and was sustaining more blows
from Rodriguez-Frias, but White left him there in the ditch. White told Sabrina that he thought
Campos had been killed, but he did not report his death to law enforcement, who were notified
only after a neighborhood child discovered the body.
The evidence supports a finding that White was guilty of murder as a party
because he intended Campos’s death and his actions of physically beating Campos—combined
with Rodriguez-Frias’s stabbings of Campos—caused Campos’s death. See Tex. Penal Code
§ 19.02(b)(1). Because the evidence is sufficient to support a finding that White committed
murder as defined in section 19.02(b)(1) of the Penal Code, charged in his indictment, and
submitted to the jury, White was not egregiously harmed by error in the charge as to the
alternative theories of murder. See Sanchez, 376 S.W.3d at 775; McDow, 2019 Tex. App.
19

LEXIS 5296, at *22. Accordingly, we conclude that the state of the evidence at trial weighs
heavily against a finding of egregious harm resulting from error in the jury charge. See Sanchez,
376 S.W.3d at 775 (noting that presence of overwhelming evidence of guilt plays determinative
role in resolving charge-error issue); Fuentes-Sanchez, 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 4222, at *27
(same).

c. Closing arguments The State’s closing argument addressed the law of parties and how it applied here.
The State argued that when someone helps his knife-carrying friend to beat up a man, leaves him
for dead, and returns multiple times to confirm the killing, it does not matter that only one person
actually did the stabbing. The State emphasized that White aided and assisted and directed the
beating of Campos; that the jury would not have to guess whether murder was something that
should have been anticipated, given White’s admissions; and that “it’s clear that they together
committed murder.”
The defense did not object to the State’s explanation about the law of parties or
how that law, as applied to the facts, showed White was guilty of murder. The defense’s closing
argument omitted any reference to the law of parties and repeatedly stated that Rodriguez-Frias
stabbed Campos. The defense avoided a law-of-parties discussion deliberately and at its peril.
Thus, we conclude that this factor weighs against a finding of egregious harm.

d. Other relevant information White contends that questions from the jury during deliberations show that the
alleged charge error confused them. In reference to the party-liability instructions, the jury’s first
note asked, “Is a ‘felony’ a type of ‘offense’?” The jury’s second note asked, “Under
20

‘Application of Law to Facts’ is it appropriate to apply ‘as a party’ to each letter under a number,
separately?” The district court answered both questions by referring the jury to the charge. As
to the first question, the instructions in the charge tracked the Penal Code statutes on the law of
parties. See Tex. Penal Code § 7.02. The charge also informed the jury that the underlying
felony was aggravated assault and that White was accused of committing the offense of murder.
As to the second question, the district court referred the jury to the charge again,
where the jury could compare the difference in format between the application paragraphs that
referenced “acting alone or as a party” only once in the preface, with the abstract paragraphs that
included “acting alone or as a party” in each subsection (a). Given the other relevant information
in the record as a whole, we conclude that this factor weighs only slightly in favor of a finding of
egregious harm or is neutral.
After considering all the above factors, we conclude that White has not shown
that any jury-charge error affected the very basis of the case, deprived him of a valuable right, or
vitally affected a defensive theory, see Arteaga, 521 S.W.3d at 338, and further, he has not
shown that any alleged charge error caused him “actual rather than theoretical harm,” see
Chambers, 580 S.W.3d at 154. In the absence of showing that error in this charge caused him
egregious harm, we overrule White’s first four issues.
Correction of judgment In his fifth and final issue, White contends that the judgment of conviction should
be modified to reflect that the statute for the offense is section “19.02(b)” of the Texas Penal
Code, and not section “19.02(b)(1)” because he was charged with all three forms of murder
21

under the statute and because the jury’s verdict does not reflect which of the three was the basis
for his conviction.
White’s judgment of conviction reflects that the “Statute for Offense” is
“19.02(b)(1) Penal Code.” As we have noted, White was charged with murder under subsections
19.02(b)(1), (2), and (3) of the Penal Code, and the jury returned a general verdict of guilt for the
murder offense. See Tex. Penal Code § 19.02(b)(1)-(3). We have authority to modify incorrect
judgments when the necessary information is available to do so. See Tex. R. App. P. 43.2(b)
(authorizing court of appeals to modify trial court’s judgment and affirm it as modified); Bigley
v. State, 865 S.W.2d 26, 27-28 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993) (concluding that rules of appellate
procedure empower courts of appeals to reform judgments). Accordingly, we sustain White’s
fifth issue seeking modification of his December 11, 2017 judgment of conviction to delete
subsection (1) in the “Statute for Offense.”

Outcome: We modify White’s judgment of conviction to reflect that the “Statute for
Offense” is “19.02(b) Penal Code,” and we affirm the judgment as modified.

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