OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley dropped her request Wednesday to extradite the biological father of a Cherokee girl who was at the center of a bitter custody dispute, but he could still face a charge of custodial interference if he goes to South Carolina.
Dusten Brown of Nowata had been scheduled to appear Thursday in court in Sequoyah County to face extradition to South Carolina.
Brown and 4-year-old Veronica’s adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco of James Island, S.C., had been in a custody dispute over the girl for years.
In August, Brown was charged in South Carolina with custodial interference for failing to hand over Veronica to the Capobiancos. But he did just that last week after the Oklahoma Supreme Court lifted an emergency stay that had kept her in Oklahoma.
Haley, in a letter to Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, said her decision to withdraw the extradition was due to the fact that Brown ultimately complied with orders in South Carolina and Oklahoma courts to hand over Veronica to the Capobiancos.
Fallin said last week that she hoped the extradition demand would be dropped.
“It is my hope this legal matter will be closed and that all parties — especially Veronica — can find peace and stability in their lives,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
Though he won’t be extradited, Brown could still face the charge if he returns to South Carolina.
Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, the state prosecutor for the Charleston, S.C., area, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment about the status of the criminal charge.
“The charge apparently still stands at this time in South Carolina ...” said Robert Nigh, one of Brown’s lawyers. “He of course does not want to face criminal charges in South Carolina.”
Brown’s lawyers have repeatedly said he did not break the law in failing to hand over the girl when a South Carolina court finalized the adoption in July.