Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
IN THE INTEREST OF D.D.P., C.L.C., E.L.C., and J.M.J.
the 150th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2016-PA-00082 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor,
Associate Judge Presiding
Angelini, Justice Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice Irene Rios,
Janice C. appeals the trial court's order terminating her
parental rights to her four children: sixteen-year-old
D.D.P., fourteen-year-old C.L.C., ten-year-old E.L.C., and
eight-year-old J.M.J. Janice C. argues on appeal that the
evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support the
trial court's finding that termination of her parental
rights is in her children's best interest. We affirm.
January 13, 2016, the Department of Family and Protective
Services filed a petition for protection of a child, for
conservatorship, and for termination in a suit affecting the
parent-child relationship. At the bench trial on June 8,
2017, three witnesses testified: Isamu Takemoto, a legal
caseworker with the Department; Darren Eakles, a Bexar County
juvenile probation officer; and Janice C.
testified that the Department became involved in this matter
when two of Janice C.'s children knocked on the doors of
neighbors "stating that they were hungry." Janice
C. was not at home, and the police were called. When Janice
C. returned home, she was arrested for child abandonment.
According to Takemoto, Janice C. was first offered Family
Based Safety Services.During this period, Janice C. was placed on
probation for her pending child abandonment charge. However,
Janice C. "continued to fail drug tests, " and
during a "random search by probation [officers], "
officers "found a shotgun under [Janice C.'s] bed,
which led to the children being removed." The underlying
petition for termination was then filed, and Janice C. was
ordered to comply with a family service plan.
testified that Janice C. was then admitted to "Criminal
Drug Court" and "went into in-patient [treatment]
at Applewhite Recovery." Janice C. completed her program
at Applewhite and was then placed on "work release by
Drug Court." However, once Janice C. was released, she
began having problems "a month or two" later.
Takemoto testified Janice C. "did not report back"
and "had a warrant out for her arrest twice."
According to Takemoto, Janice C. repeatedly tested positive
for illegal drug use. On October 26, 2016, Janice C. tested
positive for cocaine. On December 5, 2016, she tested
positive for cocaine again. On December 20, 2016, she tested
positive for methamphetamines. On December 22, 2016, she
tested positive for cocaine. On February 24, 2017, she tested
positive for methamphetamines. On February 28, 2017, she
tested positive for methamphetamines, cocaine, and
amphetamines. On March 8, 2017, she tested positive for
amphetamines and methamphetamines. Takemoto testified that
Janice C. was then "terminated from Drug Court for
to Takemoto, Janice C. was currently incarcerated in jail.
Takemoto testified that Janice C. had not complied with her
family service plan. Due to Janice C.'s criminal
involvement, she had not had many visits with her children
and had not maintained housing or employment. Although Janice
C. had engaged in some individual counseling through Drug
Court, she did not complete the counseling. "[S]he
stopped showing up, and she was arrested and put back into
Bexar County jail." Takemoto testified Janice C. was not
able to financially support her children and did not have
family or any support system. Further, Janice C. did not
demonstrate that she could live "a drug-free
lifestyle." According to Takemoto, Janice C. had shown a
pattern of behavior. Takemoto explained that before the
filing of this case, Janice C. had had previous cases with
the Department arising when two of her children, E.L.C. and
J.M.J., had tested positive for cocaine at the time of their
respective births. Both times, family based safety plans had
left the children in the care of the maternal grandmother.
Takemoto testified the maternal grandmother has since passed
testified the three youngest children currently had a kinship
placement, were "doing well, " and had "bonded
significantly with their current caregiver." Takemoto
testified that they were in a safe and stable home, and that
when she visited the home, she saw the children give the
caregiver hugs and call her "grandmother."
According to Takemoto, J.M.J. had said she did not want to
leave her current placement. Takemoto explained that the
current caregiver wishes to adopt the children, but would no
longer be willing to be a placement if parental rights were
not terminated. According to Takemoto, the current placement
was concerned about the children's family members
appearing at her home and had "no intention of [allowing
Janice C. to see] the kids."
respect to the oldest child, D.D.P., Takemoto testified that
when the other children were removed from the home, D.D.P.
was residing in a juvenile detention facility. He had been
arrested for aggravated robbery and driving in a car with a
weapon. Takemoto testified that on April 19, 2017, D.D.P. was
released from juvenile detention, and at the time of trial,
he had been a runaway for "about a month." Takemoto
testified that she was concerned about D.D.P.'s
involvement in criminal activities, explaining his lifestyle
was "the same lifestyle that [the parents have] shown as
well." Takemoto explained Janice C. was "a known
member of . . . the Bloods, " and the three fathers in
the case were also members of gangs. Takemoto testified
D.D.P. was following his parents' lifestyle as he was
"a member of the ETG" or "East Terrorist
Gangsters." According to Takemoto, D.D.P. had recently
posted a photo on social media depicting "a lot of
money, a bag of marijuana, wraps, and a drink." Takemoto
testified that when she talked to D.D.P., D.D.P. told her
that he had worked with his mother "for a while, "
and that ever "since he was two years old, " his
mother would bring him along and "he would drop packages
off of [sic] the drugs." Takemoto testified that D.D.P.
had been exposed to drug culture his entire life. Thus, she
believed it was in the best interest to terminate Janice
C.'s parental rights because Janice C. had not shown that
she could maintain a safe and appropriate home or refrain
from criminal activity.
second witness to testify was Darren Eakles, a Bexar County
juvenile probation officer. Eakles had been assigned to
D.D.P.'s case since January 2016. According to Eakles,
while at the juvenile detention facility, family members
"are placed on a contact list and are given the
opportunity to meet with the child and counselor for at least
one hour long counseling session" once a week. Janice C.
was placed on the contact list but never engaged in family
therapy with D.D.P. Eakles testified he met with D.D.P. many
times, and D.D.P. admitted to being a member of the East
Terrorist Gangsters, which are "affiliated with the
Bloods." Eakles testified that when D.D.P. was first
placed in juvenile detention, D.D.P.'s main concern was
whether he would complete his program at juvenile detention
at the same time his mother completed her rehabilitation.
D.D.P. was concerned about what would happen if he completed
his program first. According to Eakles, later in the process,
D.D.P. began to lose hope that he would be placed with his
mother after he finished his program at juvenile detention.
final witness, Janice C., testified that she met D.D.P.'s
father when she was sixteen years old, and became pregnant
and gave birth at seventeen years old. Janice C. raised her
"kids on [her] own, " but admitted J.M.J.'s
father helped her with cooking and looking after the
children. However, he did not provide any financial help.
Janice C. claimed she and J.M.J.'s father did not use
illegal drugs around the children but went "out" to
use. Janice ...