Tom Howlett
The Dallas Morning News
October 4, 1986

Dallas lawyer Robert I. Kingsley was convicted Friday of the purchase of a child in what state officials called the first successful prosecution under a law aimed at curbing illegal adoptions.

An eight-woman, four-man jury in state District Judge Gerry Meier's court found Kingsley guilty of the third-degree felony after less than two hours of deliberations. Kingsley could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and be fined $5,000.

The sentencing part of the 61-year-old lawyer's trial will begin Monday.

The three-day trial abruptly moved to final arguments by lead prosecutor Marcus Busch and defense attorney Mike Gibson on Friday morning after Gibson elected to provide no witnesses in Kingsley's defense. Kingsley did not testify.

Instead, Gibson told the jury that Kingsley paid a 22-year-old unwed mother more than $2,000 for living expenses during her pregnancy in 1984 in a good-faith -- but mistaken -- effort to arrange an adoption.

"A mistake is not a crime,' Gibson told the jury. "A mistake is not a wrong that takes away a person's liberty and brands him a criminal.'

Countering Gibson's argument, Busch reiterated testimony from the mother of the boy and a Plano lawyer who said some of the boy's adoption papers contained forged signatures of their names.

On the advice of his attorneys, Kingsley has declined to comment during the trial.

He also has been indicted on two other baby-selling charges, and his wife, Mary Zoe "Kit' Kingsley, is indicted in two of the cases. Trial dates have not been set.

Officials at the Texas Department of Human Services, which initiated the investigation of Kingsley, said the conviction was a landmark.

They said they hoped the trial would encourage other prosecutors around the state to press charges against lawyers and other people who arranged adoptions for money and without licenses.

"This is the first one that has gone all the way to court,' said Kris Schneidau, the department official who investigates unlicensed placing of children. "The Dallas district attorney's office is the first to have picked this (statute) and went with it, and we are very pleased.'


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