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Custody hearing over daughter of man murdered outside church
TYLER COUNTY - by Lauren Huet
Witnesses offered testimony Wednesday, at the Tyler County Courthouse, in a custody battle over the daughter of a man who was murdered, along with his wife, outside of a church near Colmesneil.
Nathan and Krystal Maddox were shot to death January 18, 2014, while leaving a supervised visitation with his five-year-old daughter. An attorney for the Maddox family, Ryan Deaton, says Nathan Maddox was involved in a custody battle with his ex-wife's parents. Deaton says he believes Nathan Maddox was about to get custody before he was killed.
Child Protective Services took the child out of her maternal grandparents' custody after the murder. Now, the girl's mother, Kristen Westfall Maddox, the girl's maternal grandparents, and the parents of Nathan Maddox are fighting for custody.
Wednesday, CPS argued the girl needs to remain in state custody until the murder investigation is closed. CPS says the girl would be in danger outside of foster care.
"There has not been an arrest made in the case yet," said Shari Pulliam, with CPS. "We do not know who committed the crime, so at this time we feel that the safety of this child is imperative and we want the child staying in foster care."
CPS Special Investigator Coy Collins also gave testimony of other concerns CPS has in returning the five-year-old to her maternal grandparents.
He testified that when law enforcement conducted their first search warrant of the maternal grandparents' home, they found a bag containing methamphetamine residue and a syringe in the grandmother's dresser drawer. Collins said the maternal grandmother told officers the bag belonged to her daughter Kristen, but she was keeping the bag to hold as collateral against Kristen if Kristen tried to take her daughter out of the residence.
Collins said officers also found a loaded 22-caliber pistol in Kristen's bedroom, which she shares with her daughter.
"During our investigation we have found, other things have come to light," said Pulliam. "Drugs found in the home, a gun readily accessible to a small five-year-old child. Those are very concerning to us and they would be in any CPS case."
An investigator from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality testified that there is a pipe leaking raw sewage from the maternal grandparents' house. Which Collins also listed as a concern.
The attorney for Nathan Maddox's family, Ryan Deaton, says the Maddox's want custody of their granddaughter.
"Oh I think it's in her best interest. There's alot of other reasons, but I think that mostly it's in her best interest to be away from that home," said Deaton.
Attorneys also presented a video in court of an interview between a forensic interviewer with the Garth House, and Maddox's daughter. In the interview, the five-year-old said she wanted to live with her maternal grandparents, not her father.
For now, the girl will remain in CPS custody. Judge David Dunn will decide whether CPS should keep custody at a hearing Friday. It begins at 10 a.m.