Ricky Holland's Birth Mother Takes The Stand

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

"I want my son to be able to have a chance to know his parents, to show that we can do it," 32-year-old Casey Caswell said in court.

An emotional Casey Caswell, the biological mother of Ricky Holland, takes the stand in hopes of keeping the parental rights for her youngest son, now 13-month-old Matthew Caswell.

It was the last day of testimony in Ingham County Probate Court after almost a year of hearings.

"I want my son to be able to have a chance to know his parents, to show that we can do it," 32-year-old Caswell said through tears.

It's not that simple though. Caswell has lost parental rights of five other children, including Ricky, and admits to making terrible life decisions -- like abusive relationships and a history of homelessness.

"I just want to be given the chance," Caswell said. "I have done a lot of changing."

Social workers and attorneys say nothing has changed. After a year of job searching, family therapy, and supervised visits, Caswell and her husband - a convicted sex offender - are still unemployed, unable to pay rent, and neither has a high school diploma.

"What would they do if they were on their own?" Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney Laurie Oberle said in her closing argument. "13-month-old child, they have not had him unsupervised because they do not have stability. They do not have the capacity or the disposition to provide stability for themselves, let alone for a child."

No one denies the couple's love for little Matthew though. Caswell presented a journal she's kept since the day he was born and hundreds of pictures in court. Caswells' attorney said people should focus on the future, not dwell in the past.

"They're hampered by their history, and we can't change that, but I think people do change," Caswells' attorney William Campbell said. "I think they have changed, and I think and I know, they would be good and doting parents to this baby."

Whether they can or can't be parents to Matthew is up to Ingham County Probate Court Judge George Economy now. He has 28 days to go over the testimonies and make what he calls the toughest decision for any judge.

"There's no guarantee," Judge Economy said. "You hope after weighing all these factors that the decision is the right one and in the best interest of that child."

Matthew Caswell is a child that's already been in three foster homes in the first year of his life. Judge Economy said with a case like this, he likes to take a step back before he starts going over evidence.

He'll begin his review process next week and issue a decision less than four weeks after that.

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  • by Bobbie Location: Location on Apr 3, 2013 at 08:40 PM
    Some of you seem to be ignoring the fact that although this woman has NEVER been able to care for ANY of her kids nor has she EVER lived on her own without the help of the State....she continues to give birth.Why wasn't she neutered when they first had to remove the first FIVE children from her "care"???Ricki didn't end up in a great place but his "mother" isn't much of a deal either.If after all these years she had managed to get her ged,get some kind of JOB,manage to marry someone NOT a sex abuser...SOMETHING that would demonstrate that NOW she "gets" it.....I could tolerate her getting this child.But she hasn't ....so she needs to be fixed.... so this NEVER happens again to ANY child that she gives birth to in future since no one seems to realize that she needs to be STOPPED from giving birth ever again.STOP her already.
  • by Kelly Location: Lansing on Apr 3, 2013 at 12:28 AM
    Frustrated, AND Frustrated 2, you are both absolutely correct. Society in general has created rude, disrespectful little monsters in place of what their parents have neglected to teach them. The Lansing School District specifically is floundering and failing miserably, through no fault of a majority of its teachers. The LSD will be gone within 4-5 years once the remaining good students realize how the LSD has once AGAIN screwed up by removing the music, art, library, and gym teachers. Good bye, LSD, and good riddance.
  • by Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy Location: Kingston NY on Mar 27, 2013 at 10:54 AM
    Another case where the child protection system is just wrong, wrong, wrong. SO here we have a mother who lack resources, has been in tough places, and clearly could use help. So what do we do? We take her children away. Since clearly, 3 different foster families in the first year of life when a child is building up all their lifetime bond, empathy, and trust, is somehow better that perhaps living in poverty with one's loving parents.. And then, in the name of adoption, we give her child to abusive people somehow deemed "better" by the state and they kill him. Disgusting. Give her back her kids and HELP them parent successfully!
  • by Frustrated 2 Location: Lansing on Mar 27, 2013 at 06:07 AM
    Frustrated, I couldn't agree with you more and it isnt just Lansing School district. It is our society in general. However, to make a blanket statement about all Lansing School district parents is completely uncalled for. There are MANY parents in that district who are raising amazing children. Some of those kids are kinder, smarter, more thoughtful, more respectful, caring, career oriented and on the right track than kids from "the better schools".
  • by Someone's grandma Location: Mason on Mar 27, 2013 at 04:14 AM
    Three foster homes in 13 months???? Doesn't sound like these foster parents are providing much stability for this baby either. The Caswell's can't be any worse than the murderers Ricky was handed off to to "save" him! Yes, Judge Economy, it is a tough decision. But, there are thousands of parents out there raising children under the same circumstances but staying under the radar. They are not losing their children; they are either being given help or being left alone to raise their families to the best of their abilities.
  • by Frustrated Location: Lansing on Mar 26, 2013 at 06:40 PM
    Those parents can't be any worse than the worthless parents in the Lansing School District. These people have created rude, disrespectful and obnoxious children who are headed for prison like their male sperm donor or the welfare roles. The sad thing is, they don't care.
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