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Tierna Unruh-Enos is the managing editor and associate publisher at The Paper.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Just because a house under construction isn’t finished and lacks key features doesn’t mean it’s not a dwelling under the New Mexico law that makes burglary of a residence a crime, an appellate court ruled for the first time.

The New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled Thursday in case from San Juan County, upholding Albert Dell Shelby’s conviction for residential burglary of a home that was enclosed and had a complete exterior but had an incomplete interior and lacked utility services.

Shelby’s appeal argued that there wasn’t sufficient evidence that the property was actually used as living quarters by its owner, an oil industry worker who stayed there part time when not working out of state.

The Court of Appeals ruling concluded that the unfinished state of the home didn’t determine its status and that there was enough evidence that it provided its owner with habitation “in a regular, yet intermittent, way.”

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