Cases Involving the ''Accomplice Witness Rule'' In Texas
Article 38.14 requires that accomplice witness testimony be corroborated by other evidence tending to connect the defendant with the offense. See Cathey v. State, 992 S.W.2d 460, 462 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999), cert. denied, 120 S. Ct. 805, 145 L. Ed. 2d 678 (2000).
This "accomplice witness rule" is the result of the legislature's determination that accomplice witness testimony is inherently suspect due to an accomplice's natural incentive to lie to avoid punishment. Blake v. State, 971 S.W.2d 451, 454 (Tex. Crim. App. 1998).
The corroborating evidence need not directly connect the defendant to the crime, nor be sufficient by itself to establish guilt; rather it need only tend to connect the defendant to the offense. Cathey, 992 S.W.2d at 462. on the other hand, the evidence is insufficient if it proves merely the commission of the offense. Id.
The "tend to connect" requirement, however, is not reviewed under standards of either legal or factual sufficiency of the evidence. Cathey, 992 S.W.2d at 462-63.
Rather, it is a statutorily imposed sufficiency review requiring only that there be other evidence "tending to connect the defendant with the offense." Id. at 463.
Evidence of the defendant's presence at the scene, coupled with other suspicious circumstances, even seemingly insignificant ones, may well be enough to tend to connect the defendant to the offense. Dowthitt v. State, 931 S.W.2d 244, 249 (Tex. Crim. App. 1996); Mitchell v. State, 650 S.W.2d 801, 807 (Tex. Crim. App. 1983), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 1073, 79 L. Ed. 2d 221, 104 S. Ct. 985 (1984).
All facts and circumstances in evidence may be looked at to determine whether an accomplice's testimony is corroborated. Munoz v. State, 853 S.W.2d 558, 559 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993).
It is the combined weight of all of the direct and circumstantial non-accomplice evidence that is measured to determine if it tends to connect the defendant. See, e.g., Brown v. State, 561 S.W.2d 484, 487 (Tex. Crim. App. 1978); Perkins v. State, 450 S.W.2d 855, 855 (Tex. Crim. App. 1970).
Each case must be considered on its own facts and circumstances. Munoz, 853 S.W.2d at 559.