Cates v. State (2003)

In Cates v. State, 102 S.W.3d 735 (Tex. Crim. App. 2003), the defendant had been charged with the offense of failure to stop and render aid after having struck and killed a person on a roadway and then leaving the scene. To sustain a deadly weapon finding, there must be evidence that others were actually endangered, not "merely a hypothetical potential for danger if others had been present." Id. at 738. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the affirmation of the deadly weapon finding because there was no evidence that anyone was endangered while the defendant left the scene of the accident. Id. at 738-739. The Court of criminal appeals held the evidence was insufficient to prove the defendant operated his vehicle as a deadly weapon during the offense of failure to stop and render aid. Id. at 738. The accident in Cates occurred at night on a deserted stretch of road. Id. After the accident, two witnesses, driving 85 to 95 miles per hour, caught up to the defendant soon after at a red light. Id. The court explained this evidence proved only that the witnesses were driving significantly faster than the defendant because they caught up to him so quickly. Id. Also, because the witnesses caught up to the defendant at a red light, it was further proof the defendant was not driving dangerously after the accident. Id.