FORT WORTH A man charged with theft and burglary after taking over a home through adverse possession took the witness stand to defend himself on Tuesday afternoon.

David Cooper, 26, testified he did not intend to burglarize a $400,000 Arlington home and steal the belongings inside.

Cooper sparred with a prosecutor over details of the 19th century law he claims gave him the right to move into the residence.

Earlier in the trial, homeowner Ray Dell testified the home had sat empty for about seven months last year. He and his wife were out of town seeking medical treatment for her.

Dell said he frequently checked on the house, but did not go inside. The water and power were shut off.

The defendant said the house appeared to be abandoned, and was already open.

Cooper said he researched the adverse possession law on the Internet.

This is the first of several adverse possession trials scheduled in Tarrant County. Jurors could decide Cooper's case on Wednesday.


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