Characteristics: Convicted under the "Law of Parties"
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders:
Date of arrest:
3 days after
Date of birth:
Victims profile: Atascosa County
sheriff's Deputies Thomas Monse Jr. and Mark Stephenson and
Texas State Trooper Terry Miller
Method of murder:
Location: Atascosa County, Texas, USA
Status: Sentenced to death March 2, 2001. Commuted to life in
Date of Birth
Date of Offense
Karnes (on change of venue from Atascosa County)
fitter, painter, laborer
Vodochodsky took an active role in helping his co-defendant plan
and carry out the murders of 3 peace officers. Vodochodsky
bailed the co-defendant out of jail one day prior to the
incident. The co-defendant had been jailed for Assault-Family
Violence. The co-defendant told Vodochodsky that he was going
to retaliate against police officers for his being jailed on the
assault charge. Vodochodsky knowingly withheld information
about this pending criminal act. Vodochodsky and the
co-defendant went to a gunshop on the day of the attack and
bought $200 worth of ammunition.
The co-defendant was at the
home shared by Vodochodsky and the co-defendant on 10/12/1999
and called 911 requesting police assistance. One Atascosa
deputy arrived and was shot and killed as he exited his patrol
car. Another Atascosa deputy arrived and was shot and killed as
he exited his patrol car. A Texas Department of Public Safety
Officer was dispatched to check on the two officers, since they
had not been heard from. When he arrived at the scene, he
reported an "officer down" situation and requested assistance.
He was shot and killed in his car as he attempted to back away
from the scene. The co-defendant died from a self-inflicted
gunshot wound to the head.
While Vodochodsky was not
proven to be at the scene when the crime occurred, he was
convicted under the "Law of Parties" which holds a person
responsible for assisting or encouraging a felon to commit a
Race and Gender of
male peace officers
Kenneth (Kenny) Vodochodsky
Incarcerated since October 15, 1999
(death row 2001 - 2006)
Sometime around the late
P.M. hours of 10/11/99 and the early A.M. hours of 10/12/99 a
black male in his early twenties, Jeremiah Engleton, was
arrested at the home he shared with his wife, Violet Engelton.
Also living with the Engletons were Kenneth Vodochodsky and his
girlfriend, Sara Lopez. Children also lived in the home.
Jeremiah and Kenneth were friends since boyhood. Violet and Sara
are sisters. The home where Jeremiah was arrested was a mobile
home in rural Atascosa County. Jeremiah Engleton was arrested
for hitting Violet, and threatening her life. Violet called the
Sheriff, and Deputy Thomas Monse responded to a family violence
call at the trailer in the early hours of 10/12/99.
indicated that Deputy Monse allowed Jeremiah to give $ 1,000 to
Kenneth for bond. The marriage of Jeremiah and Violet had been
strained since Violet admitted to a brief affair with another
man a few months before.
Jeremiah was in jail for
one day (10/12/99). Meanwhile, Jeremiah’s wife Violet was in the
process of filing a restraining order against him, moving from
the trailer, and seeking housing for herself and the couple’s
daughter. Throughout 10/12/99, Violet shuttled about the local
area, visiting her work place, a crises center, an apartment
complex with vacancy, and the residence of Annette Vodochodsky (Kenneth’s
mother). On 10/12/99, Violet was in the process of distancing
her life, daughter, and personal belongings from Jeremiah, who
had physically assaulted her just the night before. This was not
the first time Jeremiah had assaulted her in recent months.
By the time Jeremiah
returned home from jail Violet was gone. Jeremiah spent much of
the afternoon at the trailer ranting to himself and Kenneth
about growing resentment of Violet, and how he wanted to hurt
her. The two also watched a movie called “Saving Private Ryan”,
which was one of Jeremiah’s favorites. The two men spent time
cleaning outside the trailer, and burned trash. Kenneth also
noticed that Jeremiah appeared to be packing as if he was going
on a trip. Kenneth thought Jeremiah might be going to his mom’s
house for a few days.
At 8:07pm on 10/12/99
Jeremiah placed a 911 call to the Atascosa County Sheriff’s
Department from the trailer where he lived. Jeremiah then told
Kenneth that he had called 911 and that he should leave if he
did not want to be involved. At this point Kenneth believed his
friend might be preparing to kill himself, and had called 911so
police would discover his body, rather than having a friend or
loved one find him. Kenneth was confused, a bit scared, and
couldn’t figure out why he would pack as if to travel, if he
were going to kill himself. Nonetheless, rather than possibly
watch a friend commit suicide, he left. First however, he had to
“jump start” his car, since it would not start due to a dead
battery. Kenneth jumped his car off Jeremiah’s car around 8:10pm
with Jeremiah’s help.
Deputy Monse arrived at
the trailer, not long after the 911 call, at approximately
8:28pm according to county records. Upon exiting his patrol car,
Jeremiah shot him. Not long afterwards, Jeremiah shot a second
Deputy, Mark Stephenson, and then a third arriving officer,
Texas DPS Trooper Miller. All three officers died in the ambush.
Later in the night, the
body of Jeremiah was found by law enforcement in nearby brush,
with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. On
Jeremiah’s person was a “Suicide Note” which read: “I have
written this for one reason so that all will know why I have
done what I’ve done, because of life’s unfairness and
Later, another suicide
note surfaced, which Jeremiah had written to Violet, expressing
sorrow over their failed marriage, and asking Violet to tell
their daughter the truth of his death.
Jeremiah had made
remarks about committing suicide for months. His behavior
between learning of his wife’s affair and the triple murder/suicide
of 10/12/99 reveal a young man who had stopped caring for his
home, his property, stopped paying the bills regularly, spent
money in an uncharacteristically reckless manner, craved his own
death, and would like to go out the same way the characters did
in the movie, “Set It Off”. This film involves a group of women
who die in a shootout with police.
Later that evening
during the standoff, while Jeremiah was battling with the law
enforcement officials that surrounded the trailer, Sara and
Kenneth tried to return to the trailer via car, but were turned
away by the officer at a road block due to a situation involving
a “gunman”. They then drove to Violet’s work and picked her up
and returned to Kenneth’s brother’s house (Anthony). Once at
Anthony’s they watched TV to see if the news revealed any
reports of the situation. At that point Kenneth, Sara, Violet
and Anthony learned that Jeremiah had killed himself along with
3 police officers. Jeremiah also wounded three others in the
During that tragic
evening of 10/12/99 three uniformed law enforcement officers
were ambushed and killed in the line of duty in rural Atascosa
County, in what has become to be known as the “Atascosa Ambush”.
Two officers and a passer-by were also wounded in this
unfortunate turn of a failed marriage.
The tragic incident
received statewide media attention, including intense news
coverage by San Antonio television, radio and its newspapers.
The shootings occurred not far from San Antonio. Due to the
massive media coverage the trial was moved to Karnes County, TX.
Kenneth was tried for a crime he was not even present at, had no
knowledge of and surely couldn’t have predicted, let alone
stopped. The trial took place in rural Karnes County where
Kenneth was tried, convicted and sentenced to death.
THE CHARGES AGAINST
On 10/15/1999 Kenneth
Vodochodsky was arrested on suspicion of participating in the
ambush. Kenneth was charged that same day with three counts of
Capital Murder and two counts of Attempted Capital Murder. While
in custody, he was indicted for Capital Murder of a police
officer – Deputy Monse.
The indictment charged
that Kenneth “knowingly” caused Monse’s death by shooting him
with a firearm. The indictment further charged that “the said
Thomas Monse was then and there a peace officer… who was acting
in the lawful discharge of an official duty, and (Vodochodsky)
knew Thomas Monse was a peace officer.” At trial, the jury was
instructed on the “Law of Parties”, and were told to find
Kenneth guilty of Capital Murder under the “Law of Parties” if
they found that he acted “with intent to promote or assist
Jeremiah Engleton to commit the offense of Capital Murder, and
did then and there solicit, encourage, direct, aid or attempt to
aid Jeremiah Engleton to commit the offense…”
The “Law of Parties”, as
applied to Kenneth, states that a person is criminally
responsible as a party to a crime if the crime is committed by
the conduct of another (Jeremiah Engleton). It further states
that a person is criminally responsible for the conduct of
another if, acting with intent to promote or assist the
commission of the crime he solicits, encourages, directs, aids
or attempts to aid the other person to commit the crime.
One of the reasons
Kenneth was charged with Capital Murder under the “Law of
Parties” is because he did not actually murder anyone! In other
words, Kenneth received the maximum sentence – DEATH – for not
even murdering anyone! This unique charge is being widely used
in the State of Texas to land more innocent people on Death Row.
On April 21st 2004, the
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the Conviction and
Death Sentence of Kenneth Vodochodsky in a 6-2 opinion.
The opinion of the Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals was written by Judge Michael Keasler.
The other five justices agreeing with the overturning decision
included judge Paul Womack, Judge Tom Price, Judge Cheryl
Johnson, Judge Charles Holcomb and Judge Cathy Cochran. Voting
to uphold the conviction were Judge Sharon Keller and Judge
The focus of the opinion
was whether or not the evidence presented at trial to the jury
was legally and factually sufficient to convict Kenneth. The
opinion stated that, under a factual sufficiency review, “…we
view all the evidence in an neutral light, both for and against
the finding, and set aside the verdict if proof of guilt is so
obviously weak as to undermine confidence in the jury’s
determination….” It further stated that, “in conducting such a
review, we consider all the evidence weighed by the jury…”
The decision of the six
justices voting to overturn Kenneth’s Conviction and Death
Sentence agreed that the “evidence was factually insufficient to
They agreed that none of
the evidence necessarily suggests that Kenneth acted with intent
to promote or assist Jeremiah Engleton in the crime. They also
agreed that the weight of the evidence in this case is too weak
to support the jury’s conclusion that Kenneth solicited,
encouraged, directed, aided or attempted to aid Jeremiah
Engleton in committing the crime.
The Justices further
agreed that there is no other information in the trial record
suggesting that Kenneth was planning the crime with Jeremiah.
They even agreed that there was other evidence suggesting that
Kenneth was NOT working with Jeremiah in plotting the ambush
that left three police officers dead, stating that, “There is no
evidence that Vodochodsky actually did any affirmative act to
assist Engleton with the plan. Instead, Vodochodsky had the bad
luck of being the friend and roommate of a man determined to
kill police officers and himself.”
The Justices concluded
that “proof of Vodochodsky’s guilt was so weak as to undermine
confidence in the jury’s determination. We reverse Vodochodsky’s
conviction and sentence.”
In wake of Kenneth’s
conviction and Death Sentence being overturned by the Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals on April 21st, 2004, the State of
Texas had filed what’s called a “Motion for Rehearing”. This
motion was filed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on or
about May 6th, 2004.
The basic contents of
this Motion for Rehearing was the State of Texas citing
different case law on why the Court of Criminal Appeals should
not/cannot overturn Kenneth’s Conviction and Death Sentence.
Basically, the State was trying to convince the Court of
Criminal Appeals to affirm Kenneth’s Conviction and Death
Sentence, rather than overturn it.
However, whenever the
state files such a motion to the Court of Criminal Appeals, they
are almost always unsuccessful. On March 15th, 2005 the Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals denied the state’s motion for
rehearing! Kenneth’s conviction and death sentence remained
On April 11th, 2005 the
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decision/opinion that overturned
Kenneth’s conviction and death sentence, became final.
And finally, on April
22nd, 2005 Kenneth was transferred to a county jail, where he
awaited further disposition by the State.
The following then took
In order for the State
to retry this case, and reuse all their old “factually
insufficient” evidence, they had to produce new/additional
evidence, otherwise they would have to release Kenneth. Well,
since there was no new/additional evidence to be found, the
State decided to "fabricate" some new evidence, just to keep
Kenneth behind bars!
This new evidence came
in form of 2 new witnesses. For some unexplainable reason, these
new witnesses didn’t come forward several years before, when the
crime took place.
It’s very interesting
that these new witnesses decided to come forward now, at this
point in time, after so many years, when the State was so
desperate to find new/additional evidence to retry this case.
Even more interesting is
that, one of these new witnesses – Pedro Garcia – just happened
to be really good friends with one of the lead investigators
working for the State against Kenneth.
Pedro Garcia stated that
he met Kenneth and Jeremiah at the convenience store only hours
before the shooting. He also stated that Jeremiah told him that
he was planning to “shoot some pigs…” And so this witness
concluded that, after hearing about the shooting on the news,
that Jeremiah was talking about shooting police officers, and
not “pigs”. He also stated that the reason he never came forward
several years before was because he was afraid for his family,
and he didn’t think that the police would need his information…
But after hearing on the news that Kenneth was no longer on
Death Row, and that he could possibly be released due to the
State’s lack of evidence, only then did he appear out of nowhere
and came forward…
So all of a sudden,
Pedro Garcia was no longer afraid for his family, and he now
believed his information was important?! Why was that?! It’s
because he’s lying! And his good friend, one of the lead
investigators for the State, worked with him to “fabricate” his
statement, in order to keep Kenneth incarcerated! Pedro Garcia’s
entire statement was fabricated to coincide with the factually
insufficient evidence the State already had, as to try and
strengthen it for use against Kenneth again.
And the other new
witness – Shirley Brewster – claimed to have gone to college
with Jeremiah, many years ago. She stated that Jeremiah had
spoken to her one day about his plans to kill police officers…
If that was true, then why didn’t she tell anyone then?! Why
wait several years “after” what was supposedly said to her
happened?! And judging her statement, it’s clear that the State
worked with her as well to fabricate her statement! And she gave
no reason as to why she didn’t came forward several years ago.
So now that the State
had deceitfully produced these fabricated witnesses as “new/additional
evidence”, they could reuse all their old evidence, which was
deemed “factually insufficient” by the Texas Court of Criminal
Being that Kenneth is
innocent, this seemed like a good reason to fight this case.
However, since Kenneth can’t afford to hire his own attorney,
the State provided him with a “court-appointed” attorney…
Unfortunately though, this court appointed attorney was the same
one who was appointed to handle Kenneth’s first trial, which
ultimately landed Kenneth on Death Row! So it’s pretty obvious
that this attorney wasn’t qualified or competent enough to
handle such a serious case.
And to prove this, all
one had to do is look at what this attorney has accomplished
since Kenneth’s transfer back to the county jail … You won’t
find anything! Because Kenneth’s court-appointed attorney did
absolutely NOTHING to try and obtain Kenneth's freedom. All this
attorney did (for nearly one year) was to pressure Kenneth into
accepting a plea bargain, instead of going to trial again. This
attorney also said that, no matter what, no jury would find
Kenneth innocent, just because of the seriousness of the crime,
and because it were police officers that were killed. He further
said that it didn’t matter how weak and insufficient the
evidence was against Kenneth, that it was a no win situation …
So Kenneth asked the
judge overseeing the case to have his court-appointed attorney
removed, and to be replaced with someone more competent, who
will fight for Kenneth’s freedom. But the judge denied the
request! He only instructed the attorney to work better with and
After all that has been
said and done, Kenneth had some serious thinking to do… He
basically was now left with only two options: Go to trial again
with fabricated evidence and an incompetent attorney; or take a
plea bargain with a 30-year-prison-term…
Going to trial would
result in one of two outcomes: Kenneth would either be found not
guilty and possibly go free; or he would be found guilty and
receive a Life Sentence (meaning he would have to serve 40 years
flat before becoming eligible for parole).
Now, the 30-year plea
bargain calls for Kenneth to serve at least 15 years before
becoming eligible for parole. But since Kenneth has been
incarcerated since 1999, he would see parole in 2014! That’s not
very far away.
After taking into
consideration the fact that Kenneth’s court-appointed attorney
was incompetent, and refused to fight for Kenneth’s freedom; and
the fact that the State was producing fabricated evidence, and
seemed to stop at nothing to keep Kenneth incarcerated… Kenneth
decided that it would be in his best interest to accept the 30-year
plea bargain. At least now he has a chance to obtain his freedom
in a somewhat reasonable amount of time (compared with a Life
Sentence, or even the Death Sentence he had before).
Kenneth is now back in
prison, serving his 30-year sentence… But this is not the end!
Kenneth can still file an appeal, and even ask for a time
reduction. The only negative part about this is, Kenneth would
have to either file an appeal himself, or hire his own appeal
Since Kenneth doesn’t
know enough about the law to file an appeal on his own, and he
can’t afford to hire his own appeal attorney, Kenneth’s family
and friends are accepting donations, and trying to raise money
for an appeal attorney, and hopefully a private investigator as
well. Anybody interested in helping – in any aspect – should use
the contact information below. Many thanks for your time and
information about Kenneth
Many greetings and best
wishes to everyone who is taking the time to read this.
I want to begin this
with a small introduction/description of myself…
My full name is Kenneth
Conrad Vodochodsky, but all my family and friends call me “Kenny”.
I was born on August 16, 1980. So that makes me a Leo! *smile*
I was born and raised in
San Antonio, Texas. My nationality is half White, half Hispanic.
I am currently single (never been married). I believe in God,
but I don’t practice any particular religion. I’m a non-smoker,
but I enjoy a casual drink on special occasions. I have a son
whom I love and miss more than anything.
Physically I am 5’ 8’’
in height; I weight 160 lbs. I have black hair and brown eyes.
Oh, and I have some tattoos! *smile*
I have many interests/hobbies:
Reading (all types of books), Writing (letters, poems etc.),
Drawing (various types of drawings), Music (all types), Movies (mostly
action). My interests include all types of automobiles; flying
machines, electronics/technology, outdoor adventures… and some
If you would like more
information about me and/or my case / current situation, please
feel free to contact me via snail-mail. I would love to hear
from you - be it good or bad. *smile*
Pack I Unit
2400 Wallace Pack Rd.
Navasota, TX 77868
Former death row inmate
agrees to deal in officer shooting - worst massacres of TX law
March 29, 2006
SAN ANTONIO - An Atascosa County man said
he'll plead guilty to murder for his role in an ambush that
killed three law officers and wounded two.
Kenneth Vodochodsky, 25, was set for a May
trial on charges that he was an accomplice in the October 1999
slaying - known as one of the worst massacres of law officers in
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 2004
overturned an earlier murder conviction and death sentence for
Vodochodsky. But prosecutors were preparing to bring him to
trial again when the deal was reached this week. This time they
weren't seeking the death penalty.
"I sure don't want to spend the rest of my
life in prison," the defendant told the San Antonio Express-News
in a jail interview. "At least this way, I wouldn't."
The plea agreement, which still requires the
court's approval, calls for a 30-year sentence and includes an
option for parole after 15 years. With credit for time served,
Vodochodsky could be halfway to parole eligibility.
Texas' highest criminal appeals court
overturned Vodochodsky's earlier conviction because it found
weak evidence to support the jury's findings that he helped
roommate Jeremiah Engleton, the triggerman in the murderous
Engleton made a bogus 911 call and then
opened fire on officers responding to his mobile home before
turning the gun on himself. Killed were Atascosa County
sheriff's Deputies Thomas Monse Jr. and Mark Stephenson and
Texas State Trooper Terry Miller.
Engleton had been arrested the previous day
for attacking his wife. Vodochodsky bailed him out, and the two
men visited a gun store together as Engleton stocked up on
ammunition. Vodochodsky left their mobile home only after
Engleton placed the 911 call.
After his conviction was overturned,
prosecutors continued to collect circumstantial evidence tying
Vodochodsky to the crime. A former classmate of Engleton's told
investigators that Engleton said he was planning to target some
law officers with his best friend.
Vodochodsky said such stories are untrue, but
that they showed the prosecutors' determination to keep him
The prosecutor in the case did not return
Alan Futrell, Vodochodsky's lawyer, said the
agreement is the best possible outcome.
"It's a good agreement because neither side
is happy," he said. "Neither side can say, 'We won.'."
THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS OF TEXAS
KENNETH VODOCHODSKY, Appellant
THE STATE OF TEXAS
ON DIRECT APPEAL
delivered the opinion of the Court
in which Price, Womack, Johnson,
Holcomb, and Cochran, JJ., joined.
Keller, P.J., filed a dissenting
opinion. Meyers, J., dissented.
did not participate.
O P I N I
In February 2001, a jury convicted
Kenneth Vodochodsky of killing a peace
officer who was acting in the lawful
discharge of an official duty.
Pursuant to the jury's answers to the
special issues set forth in Texas Code
of Criminal Procedure Article 37.071, ��
2(b) and 2(e), the trial judge sentenced
Vodochodsky to death.
Direct appeal to this Court is automatic.
Vodochodsky raises four points of error.
We sustain his second point of error,
which alleges that the evidence is
factually insufficient. We reverse his
conviction and sentence.
A. The Victims
In the early evening
hours of October 12, 1999, Atascosa
County Sheriff's Deputies Thomas Monse
and Mark Stephenson and Texas Department
of Public Safety Trooper Terry Miller
were ambushed and killed by multiple
gunshots. Monse died from eighteen
gunshot wounds caused by rifle, shotgun,
and handgun fire. Two of his wounds were
caused by close range handgun fire to
his face. Stephenson died from eleven
gunshot wounds caused by rifle and
handgun fire. Stephenson also had wounds
which were caused by close-range handgun
fire to his face. Miller received two
wounds from rifle fire. The shot through
his head killed him. Several other
officers involved in the conflict were
At the end of the
incident, the shooter, Jeremiah Engleton,
killed himself with a gunshot wound to
his head. Near his body lay an SKS
Norenco 7.62 x 39mm semiautomatic rifle,
a Mossberg 12-gauge pump-action shotgun,
a Ruger 9mm semiautomatic handgun, and a
Glock .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun.
The police also found a Lorcin .380-caliber
semiautomatic handgun in Engleton's
pants' pocket and a suicide note in his
subsequently indicted for intentionally
or knowingly causing Monse's death by
shooting him with a firearm. The
indictment further charged that "the
said Thomas Monse was then and there a
peace officer . . . who was acting in
the lawful discharge of an official duty,
and [Vodochodsky] knew Thomas Monse was
a peace officer." At trial, the jury was
instructed on the law of parties and
authorized to find Vodochodsky guilty if
they found that he acted "with intent to
promote or assist Jeremiah Engleton to
commit the offense of capital murder,
and did then and there solicit,
encourage, direct, aid or attempt to aid
Jeremiah Engleton to commit the offense
. . . ."
B. The Crime Scene
Jeremiah Engleton, his
wife Violet, their infant daughter,
Violet's sister Sara Lopez, her two
children, and her boyfriend Kenneth
Vodochodsky (who had been Engleton's
friend since they were small boys) lived
in a three-bedroom home in rural
Atascosa County just east of Pleasanton.
A thickly overgrown field surrounded by
a barbed-wire fence sits to the north of
the residence. Two driveways enter the
property. Directly across from one
entrance to the residence, the barbed
wire fence had been cut, apparently to
facilitate the shooter's movement
between the field and the residence. The
field was littered with over a hundred
spent rifle and shotgun casings, and the
police found several locations in the
field that appeared to be shooting
Monse and Stephenson were
gunned down near their vehicles at the
north end of the residence. Miller was
shot as he backed his vehicle away from
the residence. Others were wounded as
they stood behind Miller's vehicle
trying to assess the situation.
C. The Sequence of Events
On October 11, 1999,
Engleton came home late in the evening
and immediately got into an argument
with Violet. He struck her and pointed a
gun at her head. Around midnight, in
response to Engleton's violent behavior,
Violet called the Atascosa Sheriff's
Office, and Deputy Monse was dispatched
to their residence. About the time Monse
was exiting his vehicle, Engleton asked
Vodochodsky, "Do you remember what we've
been talking about? I'm going to do it
right now." According to Sara,
Vodochodsky replied, "No, it's not worth
it." Monse then arrested Engleton but
allowed him to leave Vodochodsky his
wallet and $1,000.00 to bail him out the
next day. Engleton was booked into jail
at 1:10 a.m. on October 12, 1999.
Later that morning,
Engleton commented to his cellmate,
Orlando Garcia, that "[t]hese
motherfuckers don't know what they got
coming," and that it was going to make
the front page. Garcia also overheard a
telephone call Engleton placed to
Vodochodsky, during which Engleton told
Vodochodsky to make sure that Violet did
not take his "SK" (an SKS Chinese- or
Russian-made semi-automatic assault
rifle) or his "nine" (a 9 millimeter
semiautomatic pistol). Engleton also
told cellmate Phillip Darrah that he had
been arrested for domestic violence and
that when he got out he "had plans and
planned to make some headlines." Darrah
also overheard a telephone conversation
between Engleton and Vodochodsky during
which Engleton asked Vodochodsky to take
care of his belongings and specifically
mentioned the "SK." Engleton also told
Vodochodsky to bring the $1,000.00 he
left him to make his bail.
While Engleton sat in
jail, Sara and Violet moved some of
Violet's property into a storage
facility and obtained a restraining
order requiring Engleton to vacate the
residence by 5:00 p.m. that evening.
Shortly after noon, they packed up more
of Violet's property and left for
Vodochodsky's parents' house in nearby
At 2:12 p.m., Vodochodsky
posted Engleton's bail. Between 3:30 and
4:30 p.m., the two men went to a
Pleasanton gun shop where Engleton
purchased several boxes of ammunition.
After that, they returned to their
residence. Around 5:30 p.m., Sara called
the house and Vodochodsky told her that
Engleton had left. Sara, Violet, and
Vodochodsky's brother Anthony then left
Floresville and drove toward the
residence. When they arrived, they saw
Engleton's vehicle and continued on to a
grocery store in Pleasanton. Sara then
called Vodochodsky again. At first
Vodochodsky acted like he was angry
because they had not shown up, but then
he dropped his voice to a whisper and
told Sara not to come home. Instead, he
told Sara that he would meet her at
Anthony's house later. Sara and Anthony
left Violet with a friend and went to
Anthony's house. After that, the events
occurred in the following order:
7:45 p.m. A neighbor,
Edward Essary, drove past Vodochodsky's
residence on his way to Wal-Mart. As he
passed the residence, he saw Vodochodsky
loading "stuff" into his vehicle.
8:07 Police received a
"911" call to the Atascosa County
Sheriff's Office from Engleton's home.
Vodochodsky was still at the residence.
8:13 Monse and Stephenson
were dispatched to the residence.
8:28 Monse arrived at the
residence and apparently was immediately
shot and killed.
8:30 Stephenson arrived.
8:31 Stephenson very
faintly radioed in that he had been hit.
At approximately this same time,
Vodochodsky's neighbor, Robert Hutton,
heard several gunshots. As he sat in his
car at the adjacent intersection, Hutton
saw two patrol cars on Vodochodsky's
property with their headlights on. He
also noticed that the security light in
the back of the residence was off.
Further, Hutton noticed a flashlight
moving on top of Vodochodsky's residence
and concluded that a person was walking
around on the roof. He noted that the
individual was on the backside of the
pitched roof near the north end of the
residence overlooking the deputies'
vehicles. After 45 seconds to a minute,
Hutton drove away.
8:37 Miller was
dispatched to the residence to check on
Monse and Stephenson because they could
not be reached by radio. Also around
this time period, but before Miller
arrived at the residence, Essary
returned from Wal-Mart. As he passed
Vodochodsky's home, he noticed the two
deputies' vehicles in Vodochodsky's
north driveway. After arriving home and
putting away his purchases, Essary
became concerned about the events at
Vodochodsky's house. He then got back in
his car and drove toward the house.
8:51 Miller arrived at
8:52 Miller radioed in "officer
down" and requested assistance. As
Miller was backing away from the
residence in his vehicle, he was shot
and killed while still in his vehicle.
As Essary approached Vodochodsky's house,
he saw a highway patrol vehicle backing
away from the residence and heard
gunfire. As Essary passed the residence,
he saw a flashlight on the ground at the
north end of the residence. Essary
turned the corner and made his way to
another neighbor's house.
8:56 Pleasanton Police
Department Officer Louis Tudyk arrived
at the intersection adjacent to the
house. He parked his vehicle behind
8:57 Retired United
States Border Patrol Special Agent Carl
Fisher pulled his truck up alongside
8:58 Tudyk and Fisher
were shot and wounded.
9:00 Vodochodsky arrived
at Anthony's house, which is located
21.7 miles from his own. He told Anthony
that he drove straight there from his
house, a trip which should take 21 to 23
minutes depending upon speed and traffic.
Vodochodsky told Sara that Engleton was
going to kill himself, and that he
wanted to watch the news. Sara told
Vodochodsky that Engleton's suicide
would not be on television. Sara wanted
to go to the residence to help Engleton,
but Vodochodsky did not want to go. Over
Vodochodsky's objection, Sara called
Violet to tell her that Engleton planned
to kill himself. Vodochodsky eventually
agreed to go to the residence.
10:47 Vodochodsky and
Sara arrived at one of the roadblocks
attempting to get to the residence, but
they were not allowed through. They then
went to pick up Violet and returned to
Anthony's house. After arriving at
Anthony's house, Vodochodsky gave Violet
a farewell letter from Engleton.
Throughout this time period, many other
officers arrived at the residence and
took part in the standoff. Finally, with
the help of officers in a San Antonio
Police Department helicopter, ground
officers pursued Engleton. Before they
reached him, Engleton shot himself in
the head and died.
Either the night of the
killings or the next day, October 13,
Vodochodsky admitted to Sara that he was
at the residence when the bogus 911 call
was made, but he denied making it
himself. Around 2:00 p.m. on October 13,
Vodochodsky spoke with Texas Ranger Tony
Leal about the events of the previous
day. Vodochodsky told Leal that he left
his house at 8:00 p.m. the previous
evening and drove directly to his
brother's house in Poteet. Vodochodsky
later told a reporter that he left the
house at 7:45 p.m. Vodochodsky also
indicated to Leal that he did not know
about Engleton's plans regarding the
night of the murders.
Around 1:00 p.m. on
October 14, Vodochodsky talked to Essary
about the killings. During this
conversation, Essary showed Vodochodsky
where he had seen the flashlight the
night of the killings. In response,
Vodochodsky stated, "Yeah, that's where
one of the pigs - that's probably where
one of the pigs got shot at."
Vodochodsky also told Essary that he
bailed Engleton out of jail "[t]o do
this." Essary unequivocally told the
jury that Vodochodsky made the statement
in a tone that indicated that he was
proud of his actions.
Vodochodsky also told
Essary that Engleton wanted to kill the
officer that came to arrest him for
assaulting Violet, but Vodochodsky told
Engleton, "No, . . . we ain't got
nothing planned yet." Vodochodsky told
Essary that Engleton was going to kill
himself and "take some pigs with him."
Vodochodsky then stated that "that would
be less pigs in the world." Vodochodsky
told Essary that, after they returned
home, Engleton kept four guns and
Vodochodsky loaded the rest in his car
as well as some other items "because the
police were coming and he took the stuff
that they would confiscate." Along with
other weapons, Vodochodsky also took
some tools, the "papers" to the house,
and the "papers" to Engleton's boat.
When Essary commented about how the
police cut up the fence across the
street, Vodochodsky responded, "No,
that's where [Engleton] cut it up" and "that's
where he was shooting at." Vodochodsky
further commented to Essary that he knew
that Engleton had gone "over the edge"
when he took the deputy's gun.
Some time after
Vodochodsky was incarcerated, jail
personnel found in his possession a note
containing numbers and simple
mathematical calculations. Beside one
number was the word "bond" and beside
another number was the word "bullets."
In his first point of error, Vodochodsky
asserts that the evidence is legally
insufficient to support the jury's
verdict of guilty of capital murder. In
his second point, he asserts that the
evidence is factually insufficient. As
previously noted, Vodochodsky was
indicted for intentionally or knowingly
causing the death of Thomas Monse, a
person he knew to be a peace officer
acting in the lawful discharge of his
duty, by shooting him with a firearm.
After the presentation of evidence, the
court charged the jury that it could
find Vodochodsky guilty if it found that
he acted with the intent to promote or
assist Engleton in committing the
offense of capital murder, and
Vodochodsky did then and there solicit,
encourage, direct, aid or attempt to aid
Engleton in committing the offense. It
is well-settled, and Vodochodsky does
not contest the rule, that the law of
parties need not be pled in the
Further, Vodochodsky does not challenge
the fact that Engleton intended to kill
a peace officer who was acting in the
lawful discharge of his duties. Instead,
Vodochodsky contends that he was merely
present at the scene and, therefore,
cannot be held responsible for
In reviewing the legal sufficiency of
the evidence, this Court looks at all of
the evidence in the light most favorable
to the verdict to determine whether any
rational trier of fact could have found
the essential elements of the offense
beyond a reasonable doubt.
In determining whether evidence is
sufficient to convict, we must examine
the totality of the circumstances.
Texas Penal Code � 7.01(a) states that
"[a] person is criminally responsible as
a party to an offense if the offense is
committed by his own conduct, by the
conduct of another for which he is
criminally responsible, or by both." A
person is criminally responsible for the
conduct of another if "acting with
intent to promote or assist the
commission of the offense, he solicits,
encourages, directs, aids, or attempts
to aid the other person to commit the
The night before the
offense, Engleton expressed a desire to
"do it right now" and Vodochodsky told
him they did not yet have a plan. A
rational jury could conclude from this
evidence that Engleton had a plan to
kill a peace officer, that Vodochodsky
was aware of Engleton's plan, and that
Vodochodsky wanted to wait until the
plan was foolproof. On the day of the
crime, Vodochodsky bailed Engleton out
of jail, later telling Essary that he
bailed him out "to do this." A rational
jury could conclude from this evidence
that Vodochodsky bailed Engleton out of
jail specifically to carry out the plan
to kill peace officers. Knowing that the
police were coming and knowing that
Engleton intended to commit suicide
after his killing spree, Vodochodsky
took many items from the house. A
rational jury could conclude from this
evidence that Vodochodsky sought to help
Engleton wrap up his affairs as part of
his participation in the plan. Finally,
Vodochodsky commented to Essary after
the crime that he knew that Engleton had
"gone over the edge" when he took the
deputy's gun. A rational jury could
conclude from this evidence that
Vodochodsky was still at the residence
and witnessed at least Monse's murder,
despite any claims to the contrary.
In light of this evidence,
we hold that a rational jury could have
found beyond a reasonable doubt that
Vodochodsky acted with an intent to
promote or assist Engleton in committing
this offense. Point of error one is
In a factual sufficiency review, we view
all the evidence in a neutral light,
both for and against the finding, and
set aside the verdict if "proof of guilt
is so obviously weak as to undermine
confidence in the jury's determination,
or the proof of guilt, although adequate
if taken alone, is greatly outweighed by
In conducting such a review, we consider
all of the evidence weighed by the jury,
comparing the evidence which tends to
prove the existence of the elemental
fact in dispute to the evidence which
tends to disprove it.
We are authorized to disagree with the
jury's determination even if probative
evidence exists which supports the
verdict, but we must avoid substituting
our judgment for that of the fact-finder.
In this case, the
overwhelming weight of the evidence
mitigates against the conclusion that
Vodochodsky solicited, encouraged,
directed, aided or attempted to aid
Engleton in committing the offense. All
of the evidence that could legally
support a rational jury's conclusion is
nevertheless so weak that our confidence
in the jury's verdict is undermined.
When Engleton expressed a desire to "do
it right now" and Vodochodsky told him
they did not yet have a plan, neither
man specifically mentioned killing a
peace officer. When Vodochodsky told
Essary that he bailed Engleton out of
jail "to do this," he did not
specifically state that he bailed him
out as part of a plan to kill police
officers. Vodochodsky removed belongings
from the house, but there is no proof
that he did so as part of a murderous
plot. And Vodochodsky's comment to
Essary that Engleton had "gone over the
edge" when he took the deputy's gun
could just as reasonably have been a
speculative comment, not one indicating
that Vodochodsky had witnessed Monse's
Indeed, none of that
evidence necessarily suggests that
Vodochodsky acted with intent to promote
or assist Engleton. None of his
statements directly refer to killing
police officers. His statements are
devoid of information on the details of
the alleged murder plot, and there is no
other information in the record
suggesting that Vodochodsky was planning
the event with Engleton.
evidence suggests that Vodochodsky was
not working with Engleton. His whispered
warning to Sara could indicate that
while he may have known of Engleton's
plan, he was not a party to it. He did
not participate in the purchase of
ammunition. There is no evidence that
Vodochodsky actually did any affirmative
act to assist Engleton with the plan.
Instead, Vodochodsky had the bad luck of
being the friend and roommate of a man
determined to kill police officers and
We conclude that proof of
Vodochodsky's guilt was so weak as to
undermine confidence in the jury's
determination. This evidence was
factually insufficient to convict. Point
of error two is sustained.
We reverse the judgment
of the trial court and remand this case
for Vodochodsky to answer the charges in
DATE DELIVERED: April 21,
Tex. Penal Code Ann. � 19.03(a)(1).
Art. 37.071, � 2(g). Unless otherwise
indicated this and all future references
to Articles refer to the Code of
Art. 37.071, � 2(h).
Marable v. State,
85 S.W.3d 287 (Tex. Crim. App. 2002)(and
cases cited therein).
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S.
307 (1979); Griffin v. State,
614 S.W.2d 155, 159 (Tex. Crim. App.
See Denton v. State, 911 S.W.2d
388, 389-90 (Tex. Crim. App. 1995);
Miller v. State, 667 S.W.2d 773,
776 (Tex. Crim. App. 1984); Rucker
v. State, 599 S.W.2d 581, 591 (Tex.
Crim. App. 1979); Reynolds v. State,
506 S.W.2d 864, 867 (Tex. Crim. App.
1974). See also Garcia v. State,
887 S.W.2d 862, 870 (Tex. Crim. App.
Tex. Penal Code � 7.02(a)(2).
Johnson v. State, 23 S.W.3d 1,
11 (Tex. Crim. App. 2000); see also
Goodman v. State, 66 S.W.3d 283,
285-86 (Tex. Crim. App. 2001).
23 S.W.3d at 7.
Santellan, 939 S.W.2d at 164.