Tahlequah Daily Press

September 6, 2013

Veronica’s dad turns self in

Dusten Brown appeared in Sequoyah County court Thursday

By TEDDYE SNELL
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — tsnell@tahlequahdailypress.com

Dusten Brown, biological father of Veronica, turned himself in to Sequoyah County authorities Thursday morning.

Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday signed Brown’s extradition order to South Carolina, after charges were filed last month citing “custodial interference” in the adoption case involving Brown, Veronica, and Matt and Melody Capobianco, a non-native South Carolina couple seeking to finalize the adoption of the 3-year-old.

Brown appeared before Sequoyah County Judge Jeff Payton, who allowed Brown’s release – on bail, for the second time – until the extradition hearing set for Oct. 3.

Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart told the Charleston Post and Courier the judge made he ruling over his own objects, and that he initially refused to release Brown.

“This is the first time in history I have seen that done,” he told the Post and Courier.

Lockhart called Fallin’s office and was told to not release Brown, which was followed by a second call instructing Lockhart to obey the court ruling.

Following Fallin’s decision to sign the order, the Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. issued a stern response.

“We are unspeakably saddened that Gov. Fallin chose to sign the extradition warrant of Dusten Brown and subject him to arrest,” said Hoskin in a written statement.

“This illegitimate charge stems from allegations that Dusten did not appear for a court-ordered meeting in South Carolina, when all parties involved knew that Dusten was out of state serving his country at National Guard duty, and thus unable to comply with the order.”

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley requested Brown’s extradition from Oklahoma to South Carolina on Aug. 13. Brown, who has had custody of the child for the past two years, is facing charges of custodial interference in South Carolina.

He turned himself in to the Sequoyah County sheriff’s office, and a court date is set there for Sept. 12.

Veronica is currently in the custody of her biological grandparents, Alice and Tommy Brown. The extradition will not affect the placement of the child.

Hoskin views Fallin’s decision as a failure.

“We feel that the governor has failed in her duty to protect our most vulnerable citizens, which is exactly what Veronica Brown is – a minor child and citizen of the great state of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation,” said Hoskin.

“We all continue to pray that a court will determine what is in Veronica’s best interests, which has yet to happen.”

Hoskin, who is an attorney, pointed out the state supreme court stayed the custody of Veronica, who is living with Brown’s parents currently.

“Gov. Fallin has hastily inserted herself into the judicial process as Dusten seeks his due process,” said Hoskin

 “Instead of allowing the courts to decide this case, Gov. Fallin has used her authority to attempt to coerce Mr. Brown into handing over his daughter. The civil rights of both Dusten and Veronica Brown are being ignored.”

Hoskin believes Fallin’s actions, along with the bitter court battle that has been waged over the past four years should frighten every parent in the state, particularly fathers.

A gag order has been issued, and the case records have been sealed, preventing any of the interested parties from speaking.

“Additionally, Gov. Fallin has issued a statement that contains false information about Mr. Brown, knowing full well that Mr. Brown, who is bound by a court’s gag order, cannot respond and defend himself in the media. This is unacceptable and Oklahomans will not forget,” said Hoskin.

Hoskin hopes those who are concerned about the case will take action.

“We urge those who support father’s rights and tribal rights to contact the governor’s office to voice their displeasure with this unnecessary overreach in authority,” said Hoskin.