TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — It’s been a long court battle over three-year-old Baby Veronica. Friday there was a custody hearing for more than three hours at the Cherokee County Courthouse with Baby Veronica’s adoptive and biological parents.
Adoptive parents Matt and Melanie Capobianco are from South Carolina. They came to Oklahoma to get Baby Veronica returned to them. She lived with them for 27 months before South Carolina courts gave biological father, Dusten Brown, custody.
Soon after, the U.S Supreme Court ordered South Carolina to reconsider the case and state courts gave custody back to the adoptive parents, but Brown still has his biological daughter.
Much of the case has centered on Baby Veronica being part Cherokee. The Cherokee Nation argues she’s protected under the Indian Child Welfare Act. Oklahoma City Attorney James Ikard said it’s now a battle over jurisdiction.
“It appears to me that after they lost in South Carolina they’re going to every court they can even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against them. They don’t want to acknowledge that and they want to get around it somehow,” Ikard says.
Ikard says the case is getting extra attention because of the involvement of the Cherokee Nation who has their own tribal court.
“The Cherokee Nation Tribal Court is where they feel they have the best chance because this is a Cherokee child,” Ikard explains.
There was a second hearing Friday in the Tribal Court. The Cherokee Nation had granted temporary guardianship to Veronica’s stepmother and grandparents. The hearing was to change to “special guardianship” which is more permanent.
Neither family commented after the county custody hearing. NewsChannel 4 does know that the court has filed a mediation agreement.