Evidence Necessary to Verify An Accomplice Witness's Version In Texas
Section 31.03(c)(2) of the Texas Penal Code requires the State to corroborate the testimony of an accomplice that tends to connect the defendant to the crime; however, the accomplice testimony need not be corroborated to establish the defendant's knowledge or intent. TEX. PENAL CODE ANN. 31.03(c)(2) (Vernon Supp. 2000).
The remedy for the State's failure to sufficiently corroborate accomplice witness testimony when required results in the defendant's acquittal. Cathey v. State, 992 S.W.2d 460, 463 n.2 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999), cert. denied, U.S, 120 S. Ct. 805, 145 L. Ed. 2d 678 (2000).
The proper appellate review requires this Court to eliminate from consideration the accomplice witness testimony and then review the nonaccomplice testimony to determine whether any evidence tends to connect the defendant to the offense. Hernandez v. State, 939 S.W.2d 173, 176 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997).
The non-accomplice evidence alone does not have to establish the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, nor must it directly link him to the commission of the offense. Id.
There must be only some non-accomplice evidence tending to connect the defendant to the crime. Id.
Any independent evidence tending to verify an accomplice witness's version rather than the defendant's version is deemed to be corroborative, even if it goes only to "a mere 'detail'" versus a substantive connection between the defendant and the offense. Beathard v. State, 767 S.W.2d 423, 430 (Tex. Crim. App. 1989), cert. denied, U.S, 120 S. Ct. 380, 145 L. Ed. 2d 296 (1999).