Chambers v. State (1991)

In Chambers v. State, 805 S.W.2d 459 (Tex.Crim.App. 1991), the complainant recanted her earlier videotaped outcry statement during her trial testimony. In the video, she had told the investigating officer that Chambers had been molesting her. Id. at 459-60. The Court of Criminal Appeals noted that the jury observed the complainant's demeanor while she testified, and it was entitled to reconcile conflicts in her testimony and to disbelieve her recantation. Id. at 461. The court also noted that: "This was not a situation in which the only evidence of guilt was the prior statement. There was additional circumstantial evidence from other witnesses which tended to corroborate the child's prior videotaped statement. Thus, the jury was not placed in the position of speculating whether, in the face of her recantation, there was sufficient evidence to show appellant committed the offense." Id. In Chambers v. State, the jury was permitted to view the videotape of the child's pretrial interview. Although the State's case included additional evidence, the defendant and the complainant were the only eyewitnesses to the offense. Id. In Chambers, the child recanted when she was re-called during the defendant's case. Id. The Court of Appeals determined the child's recantation destroyed the probative value of the evidence and reversed the conviction. Id. at 461. The Court of Criminal Appeals reinstated the conviction, characterizing the inconsistencies in the child's testimony as "conflicts" in the evidence, and attributing the reconciliation of those conflicts to the jury. Id.