JUDGE says mother of children who refused to leave Idaho home can go free, but she rejects offer

Monday, June 4th 2001, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) _ A judge on Monday agreed to release a woman whose arrest last week prompted her children to hunker down in their home for five days, but the woman's attorney said she refused to leave jail under the judge's terms.

Judge Barbara Buchanan said she would release JoAnn McGuckin if she agrees to not violate custodial orders involving six of her children and not try to contact them without authorization.

McGuckin's lawyer, Bryce Powell, told the judge his client would not accept the conditions.

``My client demands dismissal of the charges and child protection proceedings and an apology,'' Powell said. ``She will not leave the jail at this time.''

The children had holed up in the house Tuesday after their mother was arrested on a felony child neglect charge. Sheriff's deputies waited them out until Saturday because they were believed to be armed and suspicious of authorities.

The mother has talked to the children by telephone since their surrender, Robinson said Monday.

The McGuckins lost their ramshackle home to a county tax sale last September. The current owner has asked authorities to keep McGuckin out, Bonner County Prosecutor Phil Robinson said.

But Buchanan said she would not bar McGuckin from returning to the house until the new owner initiates legal proceedings. The judge noted McGuckin had lived in the home for several years and, ``I'm not going to entertain any order to bar her from her home.''

The children were taken to a hospital after surrendering to police and were expected to be released into the temporary custody of a family friend. They were reported to be in good condition.

A hearing to decide whether the children will continue to be wards of the court or be returned to their mother was tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.

McGuckin has been jailed since her arrest last Tuesday, when authorities lured her from the home with an offer to take her to buy groceries.

After the mother's arrest, Bonner County sheriff's deputies returned to the home to take the children into custody. But they withdrew after 15-year-old Benjamin McGuckin yelled ``Get the guns!'' and the children unleashed more than two dozen dogs.

Benjamin McGuckin surrendered Thursday. The five other children _ ages 8 to 16 _ gave up Saturday after authorities promised they would try to keep the family together.

The children's father, Michael McGuckin, died May 12. The family became increasingly reclusive and had money troubles after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. His death was attributed to dehydration and malnutrition, complicated by his illness.


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