Giddens’ wife gains custody

Date: 2006-04-18

By Matt Smith/Staff Writer

A judge approved an attorneys’ agreement Monday morning to return the 9-year-old adopted daughter of a woman whose husband is being held in connection with the death of another child to the woman by June 3. The child has been in the custody of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in an undisclosed foster home since February, when David Michael Giddens was charged with injury to a child by omission resulting in death after his soon-to-be adopted son died, perhaps while under Giddens’ care.

Judge C.C. “Kit” Cooke, sitting in for Judge Wayne Bridewell in the 249th District Court, accepted the agreement following an out-of-court discussion between attorneys, family members and protective service workers.

Under the agreement, Latresa Giddens will receive increased phone and visitation rights with her daughter between now and the June 3 return date. Giddens said she plans to take the girl to summer camp, as she had in previous years, on June 6. Child Protective Service officials will continue to monitor the family’s situation.

Cooke thanked family members for their patience.

“Unfortunately, we don’t move too quickly in cases like this,” Cooke said. “But we have to follow all the procedures.”

Scott Cain, attorney for Kathy Struvey, David Giddens’ sister, argued for Struvey in earlier status hearings that she get custody of the girl. He supported Monday’s agreement, however, and called the girl’s long-term interest the most important factor.

Doug Wright, attorney for Latresa Giddens, argued during the Feb. 24 status hearing, which culminated in the girl remaining in foster care, that the child has special needs and should remain with her mother, who is used to handling her routine.

David Giddens, 42, the girl’s father, is being held at the Johnson County Corrections Center on $150,000 bail. He was arrested Feb. 10. Cleburne police Sgt. Amy Knoll said Giddens was charged with injury by omission for failing to seek medical attention after he had knowledge of the infant’s injuries.

The deceased infant, Nicholas Rhea Hoffert, was one of the twin boys the Giddens family was adopting. The twins were born Nov. 17 in Michigan and brought to Cleburne by the Giddens family on Christmas Eve.

Medical examination after his death showed Nicholas to have two skull fractures. An examination of the other twin, Gary Michael Hoffert, revealed seven broken ribs, leg fractures and bruises. Michael and his 9-year-old sister were removed from the family home following discovery of the twin’s injuries.

Cooke accepted a motion to grant the entering of a foreign judgment from Michigan during a Feb. 24 adversarial hearing to determine the daughter’s fate. Since the adoption of the twins was not complete when the incidents occurred, the children were still wards of Michigan.

Under Cooke’s order, Nicholas’ remains were returned to Michigan for burial, and Gary returned to be placed in a foster home or adopted.

Although dispensation of David Giddens’ case will be a separate matter, he did appear in court briefly Monday, but told Cooke he did not wish to remain after being informed his attorney, Dick Turner, was in court in Fort Worth and unavailable.

Cooke said Giddens is still awaiting indictment.


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