Appeal from the 313th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 2016-01424J
consists of Justices Keyes, Brown, and Lloyd.
RUSSELL LLOYD JUSTICE.
L.K.W. (Mother), is appealing the termination of her parental
rights to her son, D.K.W., Jr. (David). In two issues,
Mother argues that (1) there is factually insufficient
evidence to support the trial court's finding that
termination of her parental rights was in David's best
interest, and (2) there is legally and factually insufficient
evidence supporting the trial court's finding that the
appointment of the Department of Family and Protective
Services (the Department) as David's sole managing
conservator is in David's best interest. We affirm the
trial court's judgment.
February 9, 2016, Child Protective Services (CPS) received a
referral of neglectful supervision after Mother, who was
driving while under the influence with David in the vehicle,
had attempted to "run over" her boyfriend. Mother
and David were living in a homeless shelter at the time of
the referral. CPS removed David from Mother's care after
Mother tested positive for illegal drugs, and Mother admitted
to using marijuana and cocaine before David's seventh
birthday party on February 20, 2016.
Department filed suit seeking conservatorship of David and
termination of the parent-child relationship between David
and both of his parents and, on March 17, 2016, the court
appointed the Department as David's temporary managing
conservator. The trial court also ordered Mother and
David's father, D.K.W., Sr. aka D.K.W., Sr., to comply
with the Department's service plan.
who was previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and
schizophrenia, continued to test positive for drugs after
David was removed from her care. Specifically, hair and urine
samples collected from Mother in March and April 2016 tested
positive for amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine, and
marijuana. On May 3, 2017, a hair panel specimen from Mother
tested positive for cocaine. On June 14, 2017, a specimen
collected from Mother was positive for marijuana. There also
was a positive result for Ethyl Glucuronide.
addition to her mental illness and illegal drug use, Mother
also has an extensive criminal history. Mother was convicted
of the felony offenses of injury to a child in 2001 and
possession of a controlled substance in 2011. She was also
convicted of theft by check, assault-bodily injury, and
possession of cocaine in 2010, and theft in 2015. While David
was in CPS's custody, Mother was arrested and charged
with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. She was
convicted of the felon-in-possession charge on November 8,
2016, and sentenced to 180 days in jail.
also has a lengthy history with the Department and other
child welfare agencies beginning in 1999 when her second
child tested positive for cocaine at birth. Mother's
parental rights to that child were terminated in 2001 after
the trial court determined that Mother had committed the
predicate acts set forth in Family Code subsections
161.001(b)(1)(D), (E), and (M). Mother's eldest child was
also removed from her home on April 25, 2001, and placed in
foster care after the agency found that there was reason to
believe that Mother had physically assaulted the child on two
occasions. Mother's parental rights to that child,
however, were never terminated and the girl eventually placed
out of care.
case went to trial in July 2017. During the bench trial, the
court took judicial notice of the record, including the
termination of Mother's parental rights with respect to
her second child in 2001. The trial court also admitted
evidence of Mother's drug use and criminal history, along
with the 2001 judgment terminating her parental rights.
testified that the Department removed David from her care
because she was living in a homeless shelter at the time and
had no safe and stable place to live, and she had tested
positive for illegal drugs in February 2016. She claimed that
her positive drug tests in March 2016, April 2016, May 2017,
and June 2017 were inaccurate and she testified that she had
been sober since she was incarcerated on June 22, 2016.
testified that she had completed everything on her family
plan of service and was currently living in a small
condominium efficiency, with room for David. Mother explained
that her condominium facility had a community center, a
school close by that David could attend, and no drugs or
alcohol are allowed on the premises. Mother's daughter
and granddaughter were also living in the same facility.
Mother testified that she received $737 per month in
Supplemental Security Income for her bipolar, schizophrenic,
and depression issues, and that this was enough to pay her
rent and provide for David. Mother also stated when she
visits David, he tells her that he is tired of being where he
is at and is ready to come home.
who was incarcerated at the time for revocation of parole,
also testified at trial. He acknowledged he was serving an
eighteen-year sentence for unauthorized use of a motor
vehicle offense and a twenty-five year sentence for
possession with intent to deliver cocaine and that he would
not be eligible for parole again until March 2018.
Father's extensive criminal history also includes a 2015
conviction for child abandonment/endangerment child, stemming
from an incident during which time he left David in the car
while he ...