Morgan County Assistant State’s Attorney Chad Turner says a settlement has been reached in the custody dispute over a baby found in a Jacksonville dumpster in August.
A hearing was originally scheduled today for a modified custody case after a motion Turner filed was continued by Circuit Judge Jeffery Tobin on October 17th.
After Judge Tobin enjoined the Department of Children and Family Services from placing the child with his maternal grandmother, the department then tried to place the child with a different set of foster parents.
The infant’s mother, a 17-year-old Jacksonville girl, faces attempted first degree murder charges. She’s accused of placing the baby in a dumpster in the 3-hundred block of West Lafayette on August 30th. The baby was placed in the temporary guardianship of DCFS, who then placed the child in foster care.
Turner had planned to call five officials to testify, including the DCFS regional supervisor, for the scheduled modified custody case. Turner has argued the child should stay where he’s at- with his foster parents- and he says DCFS has agreed to that for the time being.
“For now that is exactly where that infant needs to be,” says Turner.
“He is being well cared for by two good people who are doing everything in their power to insure that all of his needs are met and that he is loved. We are very satisfied with that outcome.”
Turner believes there’s a possibility DCFS will try to reunite the child with his biological family in the future, indicating that’s their organizational goal.
“At some point I have no doubt that they will attempt to do that, at which time I may try to block that,” says Turner
“I can’t imagine a scenario down the road and I don’t want to preclude that idea. It isn’t impossible, but it is very difficult for me to believe that I will agree that that in the future.”
Turner has indicated throughout the process that he believes motives other than the child’s best interest were at play, and this morning, he explained that position.
“I don’t mind saying that I think race was a consideration because my concern was that people within the DCFS administration were making judgements that the child should be with a family that has similar racial makeup to his own,” says Turner.
I was concerned that these were people that had no contact with this child or with the foster parents, had no knowledge of the circumstances and were simply making the judgement that this should be the case. That is something that i wanted to explore and insure and make sure decisions weren’t being made
for that reason.”
Calls to the Attorney General’s Office were not immediately returned this morning.
The focus now shifts to the attempted murder case, but Turner explains that prosecutors additionally are working on an abuse and neglect case.
“The court establishes a goal for the child, we ask what are we hoping will happen with him going forward,” says Turner.
“Are we going to try and reunify with the biological family or are we going to try and look for adoption. There are different goals that the judge can set. After that phase we would be coming back to court every couple months asking what the progress on that goal is.”
The next court date in the seventeen-year-old’s case is November 13th. If the girl is found guilty, she’d be given a juvenile court sentence and an adult sentence simultaneously.
The girl is under modified detention that allows her to continue attending class at Jacksonville High School and working a part-time job.