As often happens in these cases, the fact that dad STEVEN NICHOLSON had sole custody of the murdered little boy, and joint custody of the murdered little girl is gradually disappearing from the press coverage.
Whether or not Nicholson was "mentally ill" or just a bullying, violent @$$hole (or some combination thereof) is really not the key issue here. The key issue is why the as yet UNNAMED JUDGE gave this father custody, when there was a track record regarding his abusive behavior?
Allow me to refresh your memory.
According to the post cited below, the dead's boy's mother lost custody to Nicholson in May 2010 after "a judge" accused the mom of "kidnapping" the boy. Basic translation: Because this mother tried to shield this child from his violent father and protect him, she was charged with kidnapping and was stripped of custody for failing to show to show proper deference to the father's rights. And notice all the witnesses who said that the father had always treated the boy with total contempt. This is often seen in abusive fathers who are more often interested in "scoring points" against ex-girlfriends and the like than they are in actual nurturing or child rearing.
Also notice that Nicholson had a history of substance abuse, domestic violence, and other "petty" criminal activity--but got custody anyway! And continued to retain custody despite police calls to the home regarding his abuse of the boy in particular.
So who was this judge, and why does his or her role in setting up these "alleged" murders continue to be sheltered from public view and debate?
Additional thought: I should probably add something about the pure hypocrisy here in terms of mental health. When a mom like Andrea Yates, a person with an EXTENSIVE psychiatric history and history of taking powerful psychotropic drugs, is investigated for mental health abnormalities, the fathers rights folks scream about special privileges for murdering moms. What's the basis for this guy's mental health exam? I haven't see anything resembling a history of mental illness. In my humble opinion, it's pure bull malarkey. But no so-called feminists are calling this out, are they? Well, THIS MOM is....
Last Updated: January 21. 2011 12:12PM .
Mental exam ordered for dad in toddlers' drowningDoug Guthrie / The Detroit News
Detroit— An Allen Park man was ordered today to undergo psychological testing to determine if he was insane when he allegedly scalded and drowned his two toddlers.
Steven Nicholson's defense lawyer also got a hearing set for next week Friday before Wayne County Circuit Judge Vera Massey Jones to challenge the legality of a lower court's decision to bind the 27-year-old man over for trial on charges of premeditated murder and felony murder stemming from child abuse.
"All the evidence will show is that, at most, Mr. Nicholson was negligent in the supervision of his children," said attorney William J. Winters III. "The rest is merely the prosecution's theory of what happened. Our medical expert will have a very different opinion."
About 2 a.m. Oct. 19, Nicholson called 911 in apparent panic about his children.
"I'm the father," Nicholson said on a dispatch recording played in November for 24th District Judge Richard Page. "I woke up (and) they must have got out of their cribs. I think they're ... gone. Send an ambulance, please."
Wayne County's chief medical examiner testified at that hearing that 15-month-old Ella Stafford and her 13-month-old half brother, Jonathon Sanderlin, died as a result of intentional drowning. Dr. Carl Schmidt said toilet paper or towel fibers were found deep in the lungs of both children. Both also suffered scalding burns, likely after they drowned, Schmidt said.
Page ruled that he heard enough evidence at a preliminary examination to believe there was probable cause that Nicholson committed first-degree murder, felony murder and first-degree child abuse. The crimes are punishable by up to life without parole.
Winters now says Page abused his discretion as a judge in reaching the conclusion to bind over on probable cause. .
"I have great respect for Judge Page, but I think he made a mistake," Winters said today following a brief hearing before Judge Jones. "There is absolutely no evidence of a premeditated, intentional act. Our expert will testify this was an accident."
Nicholson told police he put the toddlers in their cribs between 8:30-9 p.m. and went to bed around 10. He awoke about 2 a.m. and noticed the apartment's floor was soaking wet. When he walked into the bathroom, Nicholson said he found Jonathon face down in the bathtub and Ella face down on the wet floor.
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Carin Goldfarb declined to comment after the hearing today. She got permission from Jones today for a hearing on whether testimony will be allowed at the April 11 trial about Nicholson's alleged prior bad treatment of the children. Relatives testified at the preliminary examination that they had seen Nicholson strike the boy.
From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110121/METRO01/101210431/Mental-exam-ordered-for-dad-in-toddlers’-drowning#ixzz1BhiSleAw