MURPHY (CBSDFW.COM) – A Collin County jury came to a unanimous verdict Monday to evict four people from a home they were supposed to help sell.
The decision may not be the end though to a bizarre set of circumstances that has the home’s owner still fighting to regain control of the house.
“My whole purpose for this whole situation was to sell my home,” said Aji Phillip. “And to this day, even with this verdict, a positive verdict, my home is still occupied by these folks.”
CBS11 first reported Phillip’s situation earlier this month. After a decision to move to care for an ailing mother, she hired a company to stage the home, making it appear lived in, and more attractive to buyers.
However, Phillip soon noticed a dog on the property, a truck on the lawn and large religious crosses stored in the back yard. Then she discovered Nathan Burgess, a man not on the lease, had moved into the house with his two sons who were part of the agreement.
In an interview with CBS11 earlier this month, Burgess defended the right of his family to live in the home as they felt comfortable.
“Even though this is a business, this is a home,” he said. “It’s a home, residential setting.”
Burgess’ son Drew requested a jury trial, and opted to represent himself and his family in a Collin County Justice of the Peace court. The trial lasted a full day and a half.
Judge John Payton regularly called the two sides up for bench conferences during the end of the trial Monday, often explaining to the younger Burgess the correct and incorrect ways to argue the case. Burgess even called himself as a witness, saying at one point “I have no control over my dad.”
A jury took about 10 minutes to decide in favor of Castlekeepers, the staging company Phillip had hired. They also found the Burgess family responsible for $5,365 in unpaid rent, attorney fees and court costs.
Burgess declined an opportunity to comment after the case. In previous conversations though, he has promised to appeal. He has five days to do so, and Phillip is confident he will.
“I wish it was clear cut and done, but there’s an opportunity for these people to insult me, to instigate, and continue the process,” she said.
The home is still off the market. Realtors took it down when they didn’t feel safe showing it last month.