Uncorroborated Testimony of An Accomplice In Texas
"A conviction cannot be had upon the testimony of an accomplice unless corroborated by other evidence tending to connect the defendant with the offense committed; and the corroboration is not sufficient if it merely shows the commission of the offense." TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 38.14 (Vernon 1979).
The test for weighing the sufficiency of corroborative evidence is to eliminate from consideration the testimony of the accomplice witness and then examine the testimony of other witnesses to ascertain if there is evidence which tends to connect the accused with the commission of the offense. Hernandez v. State, 939 S.W.2d 173, 176 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997).
It is not necessary that the corroborating evidence directly connect the defendant to the crime or that it be sufficient by itself to establish guilt; it need only tend to connect the defendant to the offense. Cathey v. State, 992 S.W.2d 460, 462 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999).
Legal and factual sufficiency standards do not apply to a review of accomplice witness testimony. Id. at 463. the accused's mere presence at the scene of the crime is insufficient, by itself, to corroborate accomplice witness testimony, but "evidence of such presence, coupled with other suspicious circumstances, may tend to connect the accused to the offense." Trevino v. State, 991 S.W.2d 849, 852 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999)(citing Dowthitt v. State, 931 S.W.2d 244, 249 (Tex. Crim. App. 1996)).
As explained above Texas law mandates that a conviction cannot be upheld on the basis of accomplice testimony unless that testimony is corroborated by other evidence that tends to connect the defendant to the offense committed. TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 38.14 (Vernon Supp. 2000).
To test the sufficiency of corroborating evidence, we eliminate from consideration the accomplice testimony and examine the other evidence to ascertain if it tends to connect the defendant with the commission of the offense. Edwards v. State, 427 S.W.2d 629, 632 (Tex. Crim. App. 1968).
In applying this test, each case must be considered on its own facts and circumstances. Reed v. State, 744 S.W.2d 112, 126 (Tex. Crim. App. 1988).
The facts and testimony are viewed as a whole. the corroborating testimony must only "tend" to connect the defendant to the offense. Cox v. State, 830 S.W.2d 609, 611 (Tex. Crim. App. 1992).
Mere presence at the scene of the crime is insufficient to corroborate accomplice testimony. Id.
However, accomplice witness testimony can be considered, if coupled with other suspicious circumstances. McDuff v. State, 939 S.W.2d 607, 612 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997)(noting that evidence that defendant was in the company of accomplices at or near time or place of offense is proper corroborating evidence); Dowthitt v. State, 931 S.W.2d 244, 249 (Tex. Crim. App. 1996)(holding the presence of the accused with accomplice witnesses, when coupled with other suspicious circumstances, may be sufficient to corroborate testimony of accomplice witnesses).