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In re D.D.P.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

April 4, 2018


          From the 150th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2016-PA-00082 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor, Associate Judge Presiding

          Karen Angelini, Justice Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice Irene Rios, Justice


          Karen Angelini, Justice


         Appellant 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.


         On 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.

         Takemoto 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.[1]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.

         Takemoto 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 noncompliance."

         According 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 away.

         Takemoto 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."

          With 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.

         The 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.

         The 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 ...

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