Unfreaking believable. Dad RYAN COSTELLO is charged with 2nd-degree murder and child neglect in the death of his 3-month-old son. But not only does this guy get out on bail, he gets (supervised) visitation with his surviving 2-year-old son! Why? I see that family court judge James Seals was astonished to see this was "his call." So am I. I don't see any reason for a father charged with murdering his own offspring to get any child visitation rights with any surviving offspring whatsoever. Judge Seals doesn't think this visit will cause this child emotional harm? I do. I'm sure the little boy is aware that his baby brother is dead and that on some level, Daddy is somehow involved in it. You don't think this child is feeling fear and insecurity? You don't think the presence of his father and strange "monitors" will heighten his anxiety? I do. So why is Judge Seals allowing it? Just sickening.
It is an outrage that mothers get denied even supervised visitation because they might say the "wrong" thing. But daddies who virtually confess to the homicide of one of their children still get visitation with a surviving child? Double standard much?
Man accused in son's death released on bail
Man gets supervised visits
By Rachel Revehl • firstname.lastname@example.org • November 4, 2010
Bracing to stand trial for the death of his infant son, Ryan Costello will soon have visitation with his 2-year-old boy, a judge ruled Wednesday.
The 32-year-old south Fort Myers man was released on $75,000 bail Friday. Still facing charges of second-degree murder and child neglect, Costello filed for — and was granted — supervised visitation with his older son.
As a condition of Costello’s release from jail, criminal prosecutors had requested no contact between Costello and the surviving toddler. But Judge Mark Steinbeck left it to the discretion of family court Judge James Seals, who expressed surprise that it was his call.
“The only reason I know of to deny a parent visitation is if it will actually or eminently cause the child harm — physical, mental or emotional,” Seals said.
No one in court Wednesday — including the child’s mother, Whitney Simonsen, and both sets of grandparents — said they considered that to be a concern if the visits were supervised. So Seals approved visitation for Costello for one hour, once a week, monitored by Lutheran Services.
“If the visit itself or the aftermath of the visit creates some unpleasant happenings, then we need to know about it and make a course correction,” Seals said.
Costello was arrested in June, after deputies reported he rushed his 3-month-old son, Darwin, to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. He handed his baby to a nurse and fled back to his home, where deputies later found a marijuana grow operation and prescription pills. Both Costello and Simonsen, 24, were accused by police of dealing and possessing drugs, but state attorney’s office spokeswoman Samantha Syoen said there was insufficient evidence to go forward with prosecution of Costello on the drug charges.
“There was no way to prove who the drugs belonged to,” Syoen said.
The murder trial is still moving forward.
Investigators captured an audio conversation between Simonsen and Costello in which he says, “I killed my kid.” But his family court attorney, Toni Butler, said if that statement is considered in context, it isn’t a confession, and there is no proof Costello was the one who inflicted the baby’s injuries, which included trauma to the head, spine and internal organs.
Butler also told Seals that Costello completed a Life Skills program in jail — to which Simonsen sarcastically replied, “Well that’s good.”
Tension in the courtroom Wednesday wasn’t limited to that between Darwin’s parents, but also involved both sets of grandparents.
Both DCF and the Guardian ad Litem program recommended Simonsen be reunited with the 2-year-old, which could give her custody and the power to decide whether to allow Costello’s parents to visit. Seals granted her unsupervised visitation and permission to move back in with her parents, where her son has also lived since August. The boy has been staying with Costello’s parents on weekends.
Seals encouraged Simonsen to continue to allow Costello’s parents time with her son, saying grandparents are a good anchor for children.
Micah Costello, Ryan Costello’s sister, said later that he has always been a good father to the boy — the only real parent he knows. Simonsen’s father, Lindsay, said if it were up to him, Ryan Costello would never see his grandson again, but he understands why Seals made the decision he did.