Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
IN THE INTEREST OF A. L. T., a Child
the 408th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2016-PA-01692 Honorable Richard Garcia, Judge
Angelini, Justice, Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice, Irene Rios,
T. appeals the trial court's termination of his parental
rights to his daughter, A.L.T. In a single issue on appeal,
David challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support
the trial court's finding that termination of his
parental rights was in A.L.T.'s best interest. We affirm
the trial court's order.
August 4, 2016, the Department of Family and Protective
Services (the "Department") filed its petition to
terminate David's parental rights. The termination
hearing before the bench commenced on July 10, 2017. A.L.T.
was born on July 19, 2015, and was almost two years old at
the time of the hearing.
two witnesses testified at the termination hearing, Katie
Walston for the Department and David who testified
telephonically because he was incarcerated. Walston testified
that when A.L.T. was born, she tested positive for opiates,
suffered from withdrawal symptoms, and remained in the
hospital for about one month. Upon her release from the
hospital, A.L.T. went to live with her maternal aunt and
uncle, with whom she continues to live. A.L.T.'s mother
tested positive for opiates, cocaine, and amphetamines.
Walston stated A.L.T. is doing well and is on-track
developmentally; she is in the only home she has ever known;
and her aunt and uncle are willing to adopt her and they
provide her a safe, stable, and loving home. A.L.T. calls
them her "mom" and "dad" or
"mama" and "dada."
said David is currently incarcerated for possession of a
controlled substance, one to four grams. She first met with
David in September 2016 when he was in the Bexar County jail
and they discussed the case. After David was transferred to
the Garza West Unit in Beeville, Texas, Walston spoke to a
social worker at the unit who said the unit offered classes
such as ones for substance abuse and coping with life outside
the facility. However, the social worker said David had to
enroll himself in the classes. Walston stated she provided a
service plan to David that allowed him to complete any
services available to him at his facility, as well as engage
in any available counseling. As of the time of the
termination hearing, David had not engaged in any of the
requirements on his service plan and had not enrolled in any
classes offered at the Garza West Unit. When asked if she
believed A.L.T. would be safe if returned to David's
care, Walston responded:
No. . . . [David] has also displayed a consistent pattern of
drug use and criminal activity. He has been incarcerated the
entirety of this case and will not be released until June of
2018, [A.L.T.] does not have a bond with him. He has not
supported [A.L.T.] or provided any type of stability for her.
. . . It has been over a year and a half [since David visited
addition to drug possession, David's criminal past
includes theft, burglaries, and robberies. According to
Walston, David has not shown a willingness to effect a
positive environment or make positive changes in his life,
and he has not shown that he can properly care for and
beginning of the case in July 2015 when A.L.T. was born, and
before David's July 2016 incarceration, David and
A.L.T.'s mother were engaged in a family-based plan with
the Department. During this time, David refused to take a
drug test and had only "a few inconsistent visits"
with his daughter. Walston said the last visit was Easter of
2016. The Department filed its petition to terminate parental
rights on August 4, 2016. Since their September 2016 meeting
in the Bexar County jail, Walston has communicated with David
only by letters. In his most recent letter, David indicated
he was still trying to enroll in classes.
testified telephonically. He recalled meeting Walston at the
Bexar County jail and that she gave him a service plan. He
said he has taken classes in parenting, anger management, and
"New Life Behaviours, " and he has the certificates
for each. David said Walston included classes on his service
plan that are not offered at the Garza West Unit and the unit
does not offer therapy. David said his release date is June
27, 2018, and he has been denied parole. He does not want his
parental rights terminated.
conclusion of the evidence, the trial court terminated
David's parental rights, and he now appeals.