Daniel Quinn just wants to bring his 4-year-old daughter Maeleigh home and take care of her, just as he did until she was 2 years old.
Her spacious bedroom is fit for a princess, and a new purple bike and dresser drawers overflowing with clothes are ready for her return.
While Maeleigh was living with her mother, Candace Beckwith and her husband, Adam Beckwith, in Kentucky, they were arrested for drug trafficking and child endangerment, with regards to Maeleigh.
Adam pleaded guilty to drug trafficking. He is also facing a drug trafficking charge in Ohio. Those cases are pending.
Quinn, 33, of Fenton, has been fighting the courts and a Michigan paternity law, which he and his attorney Gregory Rohl believe is archaic, to gain custody of his biological daughter.
As the Beckwiths deal with their court cases, Maeleigh was turned over to the care of the parents of Adam Beckwith in Kentucky, rather than Quinn, despite him being the biological father.
The last time Quinn saw his daughter was Memorial Day of 2008 and the last time he spoke with her was in August of 2008.
The path leading to the little girl’s current living arrangements have been complicated and heart wrenching for Quinn. He and his attorney are convinced that the law in Michigan aided in the kidnapping of his daughter and allowed his little girl to be placed in harm’s way.
I’m going to bring her home and fight for her rights, said Quinn. For the past two years, I didn’t feel like I was a part of this country. I can’t believe this has happened.
Candace and Adam Beckwith have two children together, according to court records. While they were estranged, Adam moved to Ohio with the children and Candace met and had a baby, Maeleigh, with Quinn, in 2006.
Neither of the two men was initially listed on Maeleigh’s birth certificate, and the baby was given her mother’s maiden name, Borders.
Candace began visiting Adam and their two children in Ohio and she took Maeleigh with her on the visits. She and Maeleigh eventually moved back in with Adam and the other children.
Law in Michigan says that if a child is conceived in a relationship outside of marriage, the wife and husband have parental rights, not the biological father, according to Quinn’s attorney, Gregory J. Rohl.
For a while, Quinn was allowed to visit his daughter in Ohio. Soon, however, the Beckwiths and the three children moved to Kentucky, where Adam Beckwith’s parents reside. Quinn lost all communication with his daughter at that time.
Candace filed a motion in Genesee County Circuit Court with Judge John Gadola to deny Quinn his parental rights.
She indicated that her husband, Adam Beckwith wanted to become an interested party with parenting Maeleigh.
This was allowed because they are married. A DNA test revealed a 99.99 percent probability that Quinn is Maeleigh’s biological father. Because of the existing law, however, this proven fact did not give Quinn parental standing.
During the court hearing, Beckwith told the judge he wanted to be a father to Maeleigh, according to Rohl. Testifying under oath, Rohl said Adam Beckwith told the judge that he wanted to be a good father to Maeleigh.
Quinn said he and his attorney learned three months later that while Adam Beckwith was testifying about being a good father to Maeleigh, he was under police surveillance for drug trafficking.
How much worse can you get, said Rohl. He misrepresented himself in court.
On July 17, 2009, police in Greene County, Ohio arrested Adam for selling a controlled substance. His two children, as well as Maeleigh, were with him when he allegedly committed the offense.
According to the complaint, Adam told investigators that he took the children with him to do the drug sale because he thought if he had the children with him, it would be less likely for the police to be suspicious of him.
According to court records, Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division, of Greene County, Ohio, Greene County Children’s Services filed a complaint against Adam and Candace Beckwith one day later, on July 20, 2009 for child neglect. In the complaint, it alleges that Maeleigh was neglected because of the faults or habits of the Beckwiths.
Rohl said his client is not only eager to step up to the plate financially and emotionally, he is the father who nurtured Maeleigh for the first two years of her life, until Candace reunited with her deadbeat husband. The attorney said the 180-year-old law is in dire need of updating.
Clearly, a father (with DNA proof) who wants to step up to the plate should be able to do so, said Rohl.
Rohl said Ohio and Kentucky courts acknowledge Quinn’s parental rights, based on the DNA test.
Because of the pending cases in Ohio and Kentucky, the parental rights of Adam and Candace Beckwith have been suspended.
This latest court action has prompted Quinn to go before the courts in Genesee County and try again to get custody of his biological daughter. He will be back in Gadola’s courtroom on Aug. 16, asking for a new ruling.
Rohl said he believes the judge based his previous ruling on Michigan law and testimony given by Adam Beckwith, which they now believe was a series of lies.
When asked if the law needed to be changed prior to a new ruling, Rohl said to his understanding, a judge has the power to do as requested, in such a case. We also need legislators to revisit the law, he said.
These types of cases are becoming more and more common. Rohl said his office alone has three similar cases. Quinn believes a simple way to amend the law would be to allow the DNA findings.
What he finds so absurd, from one father to another, is how Beckwith could take another man’s child. As he wiped tears from his eyes, Quinn said, I’m going to keep up the fight. I’m not going to stop until my little girl’s home.
The facts should be enough to bring Maeleigh home.
This could set a precedence. It’s a unique case.
On July 17, 2009, the commonwealth of Kentucky, Madison Circuit Court indicted Candace and Adam Beckwith on one count of trafficking in a controlled substance, second degree, one count of controlled substance endangerment to a child in the fourth degree and one count of possession of marijuana.
On Feb. 18, 2010, Adam Beckwith pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and faces up to one year in state prison. That same day, Candace Beckwith pleaded guilty to all three counts and faces up to 10 years in state prison. This case is pending.
On March 29, 2010, the state of Ohio filed a secret indictment against Adam Beckwith. He was charged with complicity to aggravated trafficking in drugs, a third degree felony with mandatory imprisonment; conspiracy to commit aggravated trafficking drugs, a fourth degree felony; aggravated trafficking in drugs, a first degree felony with mandatory imprisonment; possession of drugs, a second degree felony with mandatory imprisonment and possession of criminal tools, a fifth degree felony. This case is pending.
Saturday, July 31, 2010