No Custody Answer For Ricky Holland's Birth Mom

By: Lindsay Veremis Email
By: Lindsay Veremis Email

An Ingham County judge wants more time to weigh what he calls the most difficult decision in law---- is a mother fit to raise her child?

Judge George Economy ordered another delay Wednesday, in the ongoing the custody battle for Casey Caswell's youngest child.

She's already lost parental right to five of her children, including Ricky Holland, who was murdered by his foster parents in 2006.

Economy would like to keep Casewell and her baby together, but says the needs of the child come first.

"There is nothing in the law that is more difficult than to say I'm taking your child away from you for good," he said. "I don't even think the death penalty would be as bad as taking your child from you."

Economy put the case on pause to allow social workers and therapists another opportuity to evaluate whether Caswell and her husband Matthew Caswell can care for the baby.

The state says history proves they can't.

"They both have chronic homelessness problems, there is also the issue of substance abuse for Mr. Caswell," prosecutors said in court. "Mr. Caswell is also a convicted sex offender."

The juvenille conviction was for criminal sexual conduct with a two-year-old boy.

Caswell's attorney says the state is dwelling in the past.

"It's clearly wrong, it says to everybody that ever participates in this system that people don't change, that they're not allowed to change, they're not allowed to go forward and better their lives," attorney William Campbell said.

Campbell believes the couple can be good attentive parents. But with no job, no high school degree and an apartment they can't pay for, social workers say the Caswell's are not providers.

"I would like to see them stable enough to keep their housing and pay their rent and that's what the concern in right now," Dr. Kathleen Jager, a family therapist said. "Will they be able to do it, are they able to get jobs and maintain that stability for Matthew?"

Since Matthew the second was born, she says the Caswells have bounced from living in a friend's dining room, to a hotel, to another friend's home, to their current apartment they leased in October. Their rent is $500 a month. They have yet to make a payment.

Jager says they are making progress in therapy, however, doing soul searching and working hard to get their lives together.

Economy will now wait until January 30th to make a ruling.

"When I make those decisions I say to myself I hope I've gathered all the information that I need because if I make the wrong decision if you will, I may have destroyed somebody's life," he said.


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