Dominguez v. State (2011)

Dominguez v. State, 355 S.W.3d 918 (Tex.App.--Fort Worth 2011, pet. ref'd)(mem. op.), was a capital murder case. The defendant there had lived in a house he shared with his girlfriend until about two weeks before the murder. Id. at 919. Title to the house was held by the girlfriend's sister, but it was acquired for the benefit of the girlfriend and her children. Id. After the defendant moved out, the locks were changed. Id. The defendant then broke into the house through the attic and killed his girlfriend. Id. at 920. He challenged whether he could commit burglary of a house that the deceased did not technically own, and for which he had made many of the mortgage payments. Id. at 922. The Fort Worth court disagreed for two reasons. Id. at 922. First, the girlfriend had a greater right of possession than did the defendant. Id. The title owner of the house testified the house was acquired for girlfriend's benefit, and not the defendant. Id. Second, the court focused on the statutory definition of "owner" which includes one in possession, whether lawfully or not. Id. At the time of the break-in and murder, the girlfriend had possession of the house and the defendant did not. Id. at 923. Significant to the court was the fact the defendant broke into the house because the locks had been changed. Id.