Wilson v. State (2006) – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Wilson v. State, 195 S.W.3d 193 (Tex. App. - San Antonio - 2006, no pet), the defendant contested the trial court's admission of the testimony of a Sprint employee, claiming that she was not qualified.

The Texas appellate court rejected this challenge, and its description of the witness's credentials and experience merits our review:

The State called Sprint employee Danko as the custodian of Wilson's cellular phone records to lay the appropriate predicate under the business records exception to the hearsay rule. TEX. R. EVID. 803(6). The records were admitted, but in addition to being the custodian of the records, the State also sought Danko's opinions as an expert regarding the interpretation of those records based on her training and experience. Danko explained that the signal from a cellular phone is transmitted from cellular towers, usually transmitting from the tower closest to the person placing the phone call. If the individual is moving, the signal may be pulled from a different tower. The phone records denote the first tower accessed when the call began and the last tower utilized when the call ended. Each tower has a general range of up to three miles, with three different sectors showing the direction of the call.

Danko explained that the location of the cellular towers and Wilson's cellular phone records reflect a map of Wilson's movements ....

Danko's training and experience allowed her to understand and interpret the computer generated records. The trial court determined Danko possessed "specialized knowledge which the court believes could or would assist the trier of facts to understand something that is in issue and ... her skill, experience, training and knowledge," would provide assistance to the jury on the point at issue. It is reasonable to conclude, given Danko's background, that her explanation of the reports and the information contained therein, specifically the incoming and outgoing calls, cell tower locations and general technology with regard to tracking cellular calls, would assist the trier of fact to better understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue. See TEX. R. EVID. 702. The record further supports that officers and emergency vehicles relied on Danko to make similar interpretations on a daily basis. Under this record, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting Danko's testimony. (Wilson, 195 S.W.3d at 200-202.)