Dowthitt v. State

In Dowthitt v. State, 931 S.W.2d 244, 250-251 (Tex. Crim. App. 1996) a capital murder prosecution, the defendant complained that the prosecutor used an improper hypothetical to illustrate a circumstance in which probation would be an acceptable punishment for the lesser-included offense of murder. The defendant claimed that the prosecutor's hypothetical was not an example of murder but of the offense of "aiding suicide." The Court held that any error was harmless because appellant was convicted of capital murder, so that "any erroneous or misleading hypotheticals to prospective jurors for the lesser-included offense of murder made no contribution to appellant's conviction or punishment." Id. at 251. In Dowthitt v. State, the defendant objected to the admission of a statement he made in which the required warnings were not given before the interrogation but were given before the defendant signed the written statement. The Court rejected the defendant's claim, stating that "because a written statement is not 'obtained' (because it is not admissible) until it is signed, giving the required warnings before the accused signs the statement meets the statutory requirements." Dowthitt was based on Article 38.22 alone; this Court's discussion centered solely on the defendant's interpretation of the statute and explicitly "assumed the federal constitutional requirements in Miranda were met." Id. at 259. In concluding that "the warnings given in the present case were both constitutionally and statutorily adequate," the Dowthitt Court's reference to the constitutional adequacy of the warnings pertained to the defendant's claim that the person conducting the interrogation must be the same person who gives the Miranda warnings. Id. at 258.