FORT WORTH -- Problems prosecuting the first adverse possession case in Tarrant county have led to reduced or dropped charges in other cases.
Two men who filed affidavits of adverse possession and moved their families into empty homes have pleaded guilty to burglary of a building. They had been charged with the more serious offense of burglary of a habitation.
Prosecutors accepted the pleas Monday for Andrew Latour and Andre Brown. They were sentenced to three years probation with deferred adjudication. Charges were dropped against three women affiliated with the same cases.
David Cooper was the first to use adverse possession as a defense. He took over a $400,000 north Arlington home after the owners left it empty for several months. Jurors recently convicted Cooper of theft and burglary of a habitation, and sentenced him to 10 years probation.
However, the case nearly fell apart over the legal definition of "habitation."
Prosecutors say the trial made it clear they would have difficulty in future cases, where the homes had been cleared of furniture, and utilities turned off.
Only one adverse possession case remains. Arlington police arrested Anthony Brown for burglary for allegedly taking over his neighbor's house while she was out of town on business.
More than 60 people filed affidavits for adverse possession in Tarrant County last year before district attorney Joe Shannon declared the claims fraudulent, and told the county clerk to stop accepting them. Dallas and Denton counties had a smaller number of adverse possession filings.