Casey Caswell was back in court Tuesday. She's the biological mother of Ricky Holland, who was murdered by his foster parents in 2006, and Caswell is still trying to keep custody of one of her children.
She's already given up or lost custody of five other kids, including Ricky. Now there's been months worth of hearings to keep 13-month old Matthew Caswell.
The Caswells' pastor was just one of several people who testified in Judge George Economy's court in Lansing.
"They're parents who love and miss their child," Pastor Coye Bouyer of King Life Church said.
The family's therapist also took the stand and said their parenting has improved. Dr. Kathleen Jager has had 13 2-hour sessions with them since their last court appearance in November.
"If he gets fussy, you know, they'll give him a bottle and they'll see if that works, and if that doesn't work then they'll hold him and pat him," Jager said. "They'll try different things to help him regulate, and they're very effective with that, and so that's been very good to see."
What's isn't good to see, according to several testimonies, is the Caswells' living situation. It's a concern many people have - the parents are still unemployed, unable to pay rent, and neither has a high school diploma. Plus, Casey was recently under investigation by Adult Protective Services regarding people she invited into their home.
"They've had a rough life," the Caswells' attorney William Campbell said. "This is a situation, abject poverty has placed them in a position they're just scrambling to provide a home for themselves and this child."
The child's pediatrician said she worries for little Matthew's development after three foster homes in the first year of his life.
"Matthew needs permanency," Dr. Anne Seuss said. "He needs to have a place where he's going to be and where he's going to stay. He needs exceptional parenting."
Another concern is Matthew's father history. Mr. Caswell was convicted of criminal sexual conduct in juvenile court and still hasn't gotten proper treatment, according to a psychologist's testimony. Judge Economy said he has to consider all of these factors before he can reach a decision.
"There are months of testimony that I have to go over and review before I finally make a decision as to what would be in the best interest of the child," Judge Economy said.
Social workers and psychologists testified right now the Caswells' home is not stable or safe enough to have Matthew in their care.
The Caswells are scheduled to be back in court March 26 for the last part of these hearings, and Casey is expected to testify.