MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

September 24, 2013

Veronica given to adoptive couple

Transfer comes after state’s high court lifts stay

TAHLEQUAH — Baby Veronica was transferred to her adoptive parents, Matt and Melody Capobianco, at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

The transfer came after the Oklahoma Supreme Court removed its stay that allowed Veronica, a Cherokee Nation citizen and biological daughter of Dusten Brown, to remain in the custody of her father.

About three dozen people gathered near the Jack Brown house on the Cherokee Nation complex grounds, where Veronica has been staying. The crowd and media were kept about 100 yards away from the home. Cherokee Nation marshals parked their cruisers between the crowd and the home, and the area was cordoned off with police tape.

Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault said an order for the transfer of the child came from Cherokee County District Court and was executed at 7:30 p.m. in conjunction with the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service. The transfer occurred at the Marshal Service office.

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree visited with the crowd, who held candles as darkness set in.

Hembree confirmed the transfer, and asked whether someone in the group would care to lead a prayer for the Brown family.

“We are steady in our resolve to protect the rights of Cherokee Nation citizens,”  Hembree said. “The fight is not over.”

Many in the crowd were surprised to learn that the tribe did not fight harder to keep the child with her biological father, despite a court ordering the transfer.

“We are walking the Trail of Tears again,” said one Brown supporter.

Several people in the crowd were visibly shaken, and tears flowed freely.

Hembree was peppered with questions, but he said he was unable to talk about particulars. A gag order issued in the case prevents anyone associated with it from talking about the details.

The Capobiancos, a non-native couple from South Carolina, and Brown have been entrenched in the custody battle for over two years. The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling laid the foundation to send Veronica to South Carolina.

The ruling came after both parties failed to reach an agreement after five days of mediation in a Tulsa courtroom.

Teddye Snell writes for the Tahlequah Daily Press.

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