FORT WORTH (AP) - A North Texas man has been sentenced to 10 years probation for trying to claim squatters’ rights on a house using an obscure state law.
A Tarrant County jury deliberated less than two hours Thursday before determining David Cooper’s sentence. Jurors also decided the 26-year-old DeSoto man must pay a $10,000 fine. Judge Wilson also sentenced him to 90 days in the Tarrant County Jail for supervision, as a condition of his probation. Cooper’s wife was acquitted of similar charges.
“This jury verdict should send a message to all of those who want to dispossess homeowners of their property that this will not be tolerated in Tarrant County,” said District Attorney Joe Shannon.
Cooper could have received a life sentence for the theft charge and 20 years in prison for the burglary charge. He was convicted Wednesday of first-degree felony theft and burglary for illegally occupying a $400,000 Arlington home. Cooper said he relied on a law allowing for “adverse possession” when he filed a claim for $16 on the home and moved in.
The family that owned the home were temporarily living in Houston while his wife underwent cancer treatment there.
Six other defendants are awaiting trial for so called “squatting” and abusing affidavits of adverse possession.
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