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In re A.-N.L.C.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

June 26, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF A.-N.L.C., a Child

          From the 285th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2017-PA-01805 Honorable Antonia Arteaga, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice Beth Watkins, Justice

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice

         A.C. appeals an order terminating his parental rights to his daughter, A.-N., who was born in May 2016. He argues the trial court's findings of grounds for termination are not supported by sufficient evidence. We affirm the order of termination.

         Background

         A.-N. was removed from A.C. on August 10, 2017, due to concerns of neglect. The affidavit in support of removal alleged A.C. had neglected A.-N.'s medical needs by not seeking proper medical treatment. The Department of Family and Protective Services filed an original petition seeking managing conservatorship of A.-N. and termination of her parents' rights. A.-N.'s mother voluntarily relinquished her rights.

          The trial court ordered A.C. to comply with the requirements set out in the service plan prepared for him by the Department. Compliance with the service plan's requirements was necessary to obtain the return of A.-N. The service plan specifically required A.C. to engage in and complete a drug program, among other services.

         The case proceeded to a three-day bench trial. The trial court heard testimony from numerous witnesses, and admitted A.C.'s family service plan into evidence. The family service plan states A.C. brought A.-N. to the hospital on July 24, 2017, because she had a fever. A.-N. was brought to the hospital again the following day. When A.C. was notified A.-N. might have a urinary tract infection and need an abdominal x-ray:

[A.C.] left the emergency room with [A.-N.] and never returned. Attempts were made to contact [A.C.] because [A.-N.] may have needed antibiotics, but he did not answer his phone or return calls. [A.-N.] is reported to be 14 months old, weighing a little over 17lbs. She does not walk. It was reported she has not been to a primary care physician since birth and doesn't receive immunizations because [A.C.] does not believe in them.[1]

A.C. testified A.-N. had a 108-degree fever, but hospital staff told him "it was the flu," and discharged A.-N. from the hospital.

         There was conflicting evidence about what happened after A.C. left the hospital on July 24, 2017. A.C. first testified he returned the following day because A.-N. had a 105-degree fever and "there was something else wrong with her." He stated that when hospital staff criticized him for not having A.-N. vaccinated, he "grabbed [A.-N.] and walked out" because he was upset. A.C. testified he realized A.-N. "was in serious danger that day" and knew "that [such a fever] was dangerous for a baby." A.C. stated that when A.-N. had the 105-degree fever he knew "she had a bacteria" because he "didn't wash [her bottle] right and she got bacteria." A.C. testified he then went "to his aunt's" because she is a nurse, and she told A.C. to keep A.-N. hydrated and give her Motrin to keep her fever down.

         However, A.C. also testified he had "called" his aunt for her advice, and stated the second time he took A.-N. to the hospital was a few days after her first hospital visit. He stated that after he left the hospital, he left A.-N. with his brother for two weeks because he "was on the run" and "didn't want to have [his] daughter in the street with [him]." A.C. testified he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. He also testified that after he left the hospital with A.-N., he waited approximately six days to call his brother, who came and took A.-N. and gave her "home remedies." A.C. stated that, at some point, his brother took A.-N. to their mother's home. A.C. further testified that on the day of A.-N.'s removal, August 10, 2017, she had a fever.

         A.C. testified he gave A.-N. Motrin, but he also testified he did not "believe in" giving A.-N. "a manmade drug." A.C. acknowledged Motrin is a manmade drug. A.C. also admitted he had used methamphetamines, which he understood were also manmade drugs. He clarified he opposed only manmade vaccinations. A.C. also stated he went to the hospital "thinking they would give her some antibiotic 'cause I knew something was wrong with her." He further stated he "should have just took her to another hospital." A special investigator with the Department testified A.C. "said he did not want his child to have any medicine or shots. And if we did, he would sue the department."

         The Department located A.-N. on August 10, 2017, at A.C.'s mother's home, where A.C.'s brother and his girlfriend lived in a trailer on the property. Law enforcement officials located A.C. on his mother's property that day and arrested him. A.C.'s mother testified A.C. took ...


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