- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The trial has begun for a woman accused of squatting in a vacant $3 million dollar mansion.

Tabitha Gentry is been charged with aggravated burglary and theft over $60,000. Authorities say she illegally moved into the Memphis-area mansion in March 2013. The property was for sale after being foreclosed on by a bank.

The Commercial Appeal reports (https://bit.ly/1QiPxK1) that Gentry still claims to be a sovereign citizen and told the judge on Tuesday that she does not recognize the authority of the court and will not assist her court-appointed attorney. The trial proceeded anyway.

After jurors came in and the defense attorney said Gentry pleaded not guilty to the charges, she stood and addressed the panel directly.

“I do not plead anything. This is supposed to be a civil issue and they have made it into a criminal issue and I don’t understand why,” she said before Judge James Lammey cut her off.

Prosecutors told jurors in opening statements that Gentry should be held criminally responsible for trying to take possession of the home.

Gentry’s attorney, Claiborne Ferguson, said his client was squatting, but couldn’t have stolen the residence.

“It’s a house,” Ferguson said. “You can’t put it in your pocket and walk away with it and say ‘I’m going to keep it forever.’”


Information from: The Commercial Appeal, https://www.commercialappeal.com

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