Cherokee Nation, Biological Father Look To Next Steps In Veronica Case

Tuesday, September 24th 2013, 6:20 pm
By: News On 6

We're learning new details about the transfer of 4-year-old Veronica from her biological father to her adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco.

The Cherokee Nation says it was an emotional, but peaceful transfer and they're not ready to give up hope that Dusten Brown will play a role in Veronica's life.

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree said the tribe and Dusten Brown's lawyers are planning a conference call, where they hope to figure out what is next. They're still hoping for a visitation agreement.

As for little Veronica, she has left Oklahoma for South Carolina.

9/23/2013 Related Story: South Carolina Couple Takes Custody Of 'Baby Veronica'

After the Oklahoma Supreme Court voted to lift the stay that was keeping Veronica in the state, the Cherokee Nation AG released a statement saying he wasn't just going to hand Veronica over, since there is a "conflicting Cherokee Nation order concerning a Cherokee Nation citizen on Cherokee Nation land."

Then about two hours later, Hembree said Brown decided it would be best for Veronica if there was a peaceful transfer and the tribe supported his wishes.

"He does not want this transition, this change, if it's going to happen, to scar her anymore than it has already scarred her," Hembree said.

Matt and Melanie Capobianco released this statement Tuesday:

"Nearly 21 months ago, we vowed to do everything legally possible to reunite our family. While we are overjoyed to bring Veronica home, we sympathize with the Brown family during this difficult time. Despite our differences, and everything that has happened over the last several months, we all love Veronica and want what is best for her. We are grateful that the visits we've enjoyed with our daughter allowed us to reconnect as a family and ease her transition home. We are all doing well and our focus now is on healing and getting our life back to normal. While we recognize there are many who have taken a strong interest in Veronica's case, we ask for privacy during this precious time with our daughter. We are eternally grateful for the overwhelming outpouring of prayers and support for our family."

Two of the Oklahoma Supreme Court Justices voted against lifting the stay to keep Veronica in Oklahoma.

Vice-Chief Justice John Reif and Justice Norma Gurich wanted to keep Veronica in Oklahoma and claim jurisdiction over the case.

According to court records, Reif said the court should "enter a determination concerning Veronica's best interests as an Indian Child and member of the Cherokee Nation."

This is something the tribe also wanted.

"There has not been a best interest hearing on the merits since the United States Supreme Court made this decision," Hembree said.

Gurich wrote, "the single most important consideration in this long and drawn out litigation is the best interest of Veronica."

She went on to say, "Veronica deserves her day in court...An immediate change of custody without any consideration of her best interests will require a 4-year-old child to resolve her feelings of loss and grief for a second time."

Chief Justice Tom Colbert, agreed with part of the ruling and disagreed with the other, but the court hasn't made his opinion public.

Like the justices, opinions in Tahlequah are also split.

"They did a good choice by sending her over to her adoptive parents," said Tahlequah resident Amber Garner.

"My heart goes out to Dusten and his family. I just hope that Baby Veronica can come home soon," said Cherokee citizen Justin Godwin.

"I see both sides, but ultimately the child, she just needs to be where she's cared for the most," said Mark Jackson.

Dusten Brown is still due in court next week for an extradition hearing for custodial interference.

Special Coverage: "Baby Veronica" Case