A San Antonio man and his common-law wife who have been estranged for six years face the prospect of splitting an $800,000 winning lottery ticket.
Herman Mancillas and Patricia Trinidad likely will divide the winnings evenly when formal divorce proceedings take place in a few weeks. They broke off their relationship in 1997.
Trinidad, 39, sued to split the money from last year's winning lottery ticket because the couple had not divorced.
"I'm just happy to be divorced," Trinidad told the San Antonio Express-News after Wednesday's Bexar County jury verdict. "I hadn't really thought about the lottery money, but I'm not going to turn down half."
Mancillas told jurors his relations with Trinidad had been casual. Mancillas never introduced Trinidad as his wife to people, attorney Lucio Valdez argued, contrary to her claims.
"She's doing this to get the money!" Mancillas testified.
Valdez painted a picture of Mancillas as a good Samaritan who helped Trinidad when the woman and her four children were in danger of being evicted.
Drew Richman, Trinidad's attorney, argued that his client was married by common law to Mancillas the day she signed her previous husband's divorce papers.
Because Texas is a community property state, state District Judge John Gabriel must divide the couple's assets and debt in half when the parties meet again in the next few weeks.
Nearly three years ago, a San Antonio couple battled over $9 million in Lotto Texas winnings. Thomas P. Araiza Jr. claimed he was married by common law to Juanita Arrollo, who won a jackpot May 27, 2000. She denied she was married to him. The parties settled after mediation, with Arrollo agreeing to pay the wheelchair-bound Araiza an undisclosed sum.