Morales v. State

357 S.W.3d 1 (2011)

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Morales v. State

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
357 S.W.3d 1 (2011)

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Facts

Jose Morales (defendant) was indicted for murder after shooting and killing Enil Lopez. Lopez was a member of a gang that had a rival gang to which Morales’s brother Juan belonged. The two gangs were engaged in a street fight, and Lopez was fighting Juan directly. At some point, Morales shot and killed Lopez. Testimony at Morales’s subsequent murder trial was conflicting, with some witnesses saying Lopez was beating Juan with a metal pipe while Juan was lying on the ground helpless at the time Morales intervened and others stating that Juan had pulled metal baseball bats out of a car and had been hitting Lopez with one. Morales claimed that he shot Lopez in Juan’s defense and asked for a jury instruction on the defense of others. Specifically, Morales asked the judge to instruct the jury to presume that deadly force was reasonable based on Texas law permitting a presumption of reasonableness as long as the defendant did not provoke the attack, believed the person against whom he used deadly force was committing a felony, and was not himself otherwise engaged in criminal activity. The trial court refused, and Morales was convicted. The first appellate court found that the trial court did not err because the fight constituted a riot, negating the entitlement to the presumption because Morales was himself engaged in criminal activity.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Keller, J.)

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