Baby to live with parents accused of murder

Relates to:
Date: 2007-02-08

Baby to live with parents accused of murder

Overtons not allowed to be left alone with newborn, judge rules

February 8, 2007
barbara ramirez

A newborn whose parents are accused in the death of a 4-year-old will live with her family's pastor - where her mother and father also live, a judge decided Wednesday.
Neither Hannah nor Larry Overton is allowed to be alone with the newborn while they live with Calvary Chapel Coastlands pastor Rod Carver and his wife, Noreen, Judge Carl Lewis ordered Wednesday during a hearing in County-Court-At-Law No. 5 to determine temporary custody of Emma Overton.

The Overtons were indicted by a grand jury last week on capital murder charges in connection with the death of 4-year-old Andrew Burd, who was fed a mixture of water and Cajun seasoning as punishment on Oct. 2, according to arrest affidavits.

After drinking the mixture, Andrew vomited and drifted in and out of consciousness. The Overtons waited nearly three hours before taking the boy to a medical clinic, affidavits said.

He later was taken to Christus Spohn Hospital South, where he died the next day, hospital officials said. The couple was in the process of adopting Andrew, who was a foster child.

"I am called upon to be fair," Lewis said, before placing Emma Overton in the Carvers' home and saying it's important for a mother and newborn to bond. Hannah Overton breastfeeds the child, her attorneys said.

Hannah and Larry Overton attend Calvary Chapel Coastlands and have lived with the Carver family since being released from jail on bond in October. The couple stays in a small room that offers little privacy at the Carver home, Rod Carver testified, adding that he can see into their room from his desk, where he often sits with his laptop.

Emma Overton, born Jan. 22, had been living with her grandparents, along with her four siblings - ages 7, 5, 4 and 2 - while under the custody of Child Protective Services. CPS retains temporary custody of all the children until a judge decides otherwise.

Attorneys for the Overtons asked the judge to allow Emma Overton to be in her parents' custody, citing issues with the manner in which Emma was removed by Child Protective Services about three days after she was born.

CPS took custody of Emma from her parents about three days after she was born, saying she was at risk while in her parents' care, said attorney David Klein, the Overtons' attorney in the civil case. CPS based the assessment on the investigation of Andrew Burd's death, which had nothing to do with the newborn child, Klein argued.

Regina Garcia, spokeswoman for Child Protective Services, said they will follow the judge's order.

Attorney Bradford Condit, who represents the children's grandparents, said the risk factor was assessed by CPS using police reports and documents provided by state prosecutors. He said the prosecutors were overzealous and criticized one of the investigating officers, saying the officer had a chip on his shoulder.

"These people are innocent," Condit said, darting his eyes in the direction of the Overtons, who cuddled their newborn child.

Other church members crowded around the couple, some getting a first look at the newborn.

"I'd rather keep her," Hannah Overton said, snuggling Emma to her chest as others asked her if they could hold Emma.

Contact Barbara Ramirez at 886-3792 or


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