A man is scheduled to go on trial this week, with a life sentence among the possible outcomes.
David Cooper of DeSoto is charged with first-degree felony charge of theft over $200,000. He also faces a charge of burglary that carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison.
It’s all because Cooper, 26, is accused of "squatting" on a $405,000 home in northeast Arlington while the homeowner was receiving cancer treatments in Houston. His jury trial is scheduled to begin this week.
The case could turn on this question: Did Cooper plan to live at the property, which he claimed was abandoned, or was his intent to commit fraud and loot it?
Cooper contends he tapped an obscure Texas law that allows people to claim rights to abandoned or vacant properties as long they maintain the property and pay taxes on it.
But a year ago, Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon deemed these arrangements were "fraudulent" and directed the county clerk's office not to accept them.
Dozens of people had taken ownership of more than $8 million in Tarrant property.