Lockhart was arrested and convicted of aggravated robbery in
Paid $18 Dollars
On the day of his arrest, Lockhart had worked distributing hand
circulars and been paid $18.00.
After work, Lockhart spent several hours at the Stop-In Cafe in
Left Caf, Argued with Prostitute
Lockhart testified at trial that he left the cafe at
approximately 11:00 p.m. following an argument with a
James Hall was Robbed
At approximately the same time that Lockhart left the Stop-In
Cafe and in that same neighborhood, James Hall, who had also
just left the Stop-In Cafe, was robbed.
Put Knife to Throat
According to Hall, a man put a knife to Hall's throat and
demanded Hall's money.
After giving the man his wallet, which contained $30.00, Hall
Hall Called, Offices Arrived
When police officers arrived, Hall told the officers that his
assailant was about 5 feet, 11
inches tall, weighed 170 pounds, and was wearing a red
windbreaker and blue pants.
Police Officers spotted Hall
Hall identified Lockhart as the robber and, after Lockhart had
been stopped and searched, identified a knife taken from
Lockhart as the one used in the robbery.
Wallet was questionable
Although the police found $12.00 in Lockhart's pants,
they could not recall whether
they had also discovered Hall's stolen wallet at the time of
Striped Search at Jail
Purse - Wallet
picture of Halls girlfriend and her child were in the wallet.
$12.00 in cash
Several Months After Arrest
County Prosecutor noticed a purse had been taken from Lockhart
and speculated that the inventoried purse could be the wallet
taken in the robbery.
Lockhart Argues - No witness testified wallet was recovered
Lockhart's attorney pointed out to the jury that
no State witness had testified that
Hall's wallet had actually been recovered from Lockhart
at the time of Lockhart's arrest. Smith did not call any
Lockhart Asserted - Wallet had been planted in envelop
However, contrary to Smith's advice, Lockhart testified on his
own behalf. Lockhart denied having committed the robbery and
asserted that the wallet had been planted in his personal
Failure to Object to Introduction of Halls Wallet Into Evidence
Lockhart Contends - His counsel failed to object to wallet
Lockhart contends that HAD
his trial counsel RAISED
a chain of custody objection to the State's introduction of the
wallet, the wallet would have been
EXCLUDED from evidence.
To establish a proper chain of custody to introducing the
wallet, the State should have introduced testimony
(1) tracing the wallet from the arrest to Lockhart's property
(2) establishing the security of and limited access to the
(3) tracing the wallet from the property envelope to the court.
- Traced from envelop to court
The State only introduced testimony tracing the wallet from
Lockhart's property envelope to the court.
- failed to establish the security
The State failed to establish the security of the wallet once it
had been removed from Lockhart's personal property envelope.
Magistrate - The wallet was specifically unique and
Because the wallet was "specifically unique and identifiable
evidence," under Texas law a chain of custody objection would
not have barred admission of the wallet.
The magistrate concluded that counsel's failure to assert such
an objection had not prejudiced Lockhart
- Agrees with Magistrate
Lockhart was not prejudiced by his counsel's failure to assert a
chain of custody objection.
Objects involved in a crime
Tangible objects involved in a crime, such as the wallet in the
instant case, are admissible in evidence only when identified
and shown to be in materially the same condition as at the time
of the crime.
Establishing Chain of Custody
When the object has passed through several hands before being
produced in court, it often is necessary to establish a chain of
custody in order to prove either identity or lack of alteration
When Chain of Custody is not important
When an object cannot be easily altered or substituted,
establishing a continuous chain of custody is not as important.
Chain of Custody - Goes Only To Weight
Absent evidence of substitution or alteration, the failure to
establish a chain of custody will generally go only to the
weight of the evidence rather than its admissibility.
If Object is involved in the Crime
When the object is expressly identified at trial as the object
involved in the crime, establishing a chain of custody is not
necessary for the object to be admissible.
- Pictures, He and Police Identified Wallet
The wallet, containing pictures of the robbery victim's
girlfriend and her children, was readily identifiable and not
subject to undetectable alteration.
The robbery victim specifically identified the wallet as the
wallet which had been taken during the robbery.
Officer Kelley identified the wallet as the same wallet Kelley
had removed from Lockhart's personal property envelope.
- Wallet would not have been excluded
chain of custody objection by Lockhart's attorney would not have
resulted in exclusion of the wallet.
- Objection failure did not prejudice Lockhart
In these circumstances, the attorney's failure to assert a chain
of custody objection, which at best only went to the weight of
the evidence, cannot be said to have prejudiced Lockhart.