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Entries in Kristine Cushing (1)

Monday
Aug292011

Judge: Kids Can Live with Child Killer, For Now

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Trisha Conlon's teenage son will continue to live with a woman who shot and killed her own daughters 20 years ago, ruled King County Superior Court Judge William Downing in Seattle Monday. The judge issued the order pending an investigation of the welfare of both of Conlon's children.

For the past month the highly publicized custody battle between Conlon and her ex-husband, John Cushing, has made headlines in Seattle, where Conlon is fighting to make sure her children don't spend time with her husband's first ex-wife, Kristine Cushing, who currently lives with him on Vashon Island in Washington.

Conlon's son Sam, 13, typically lives with his father, John Cushing, as a result of the couple's unusual split custody arrangement, set up in 2005. Conlon's other son, Stephen, 14, usually lives with her.

Conlon, of Silverton, Ore., had two boys with her ex-husband, John Cushing, after they married in 1995. Nine years later they divorced and arranged split custody of the boys, alternating holidays.

The arrangement was working out fine until, Conlon says, she discovered her teenage sons had been spending time with their father's first ex-wife, Kristine.

John Cushing, a retired Marine fighter pilot who works for Boeing, had been married to Kristine Cushing for 17 years.

The couple lived with their two young daughters in Laguna Niguel, Calif., where Cushing was a stay-at-home mom. She filed for divorce in 1991, and, in the same year, began taking Prozac and seeing a psychiatrist.

Then, at home one night in October, she killed their 4-year-old, Stephanie, and their 8-year-old, Amy, with a .38-caliber handgun.

John Cushing eventually got back together with Kristine Cushing, remarrying her in 2005, one year after divorcing Conlon. That same year California authorities ruled Kristine Cushing posed no risk to others.

After discovering Kristine Cushing was spending time with her sons, Conlon eventually hired an attorney to change their 2005 custody agreement so that her kids no longer have contact with Kristine Cushing.

Judge Downing granted Conlon's motion for a custody modification Monday, overturning a commissioner's earlier ruling that her custody arrangement with her ex-husband didn't need to be changed. Even so, in his decision Downing asked that a court-appointed child advocate investigate on behalf of the children's interests and submit a report within 90 days.

At the end of the investigation, the court will decide if the teenagers' residential schedules ought to change.

But in the meantime, there will be no change in either of the kids' residential schedules. The judge also asked that John Cushing remove any firearms or weapons from the home, stop residing with Kristine Cushing if she isn't in compliance with the recommendations of her treatment providers, and comply with any "safety plan" imposed by Child Protective Services.

Conlon has declined interview requests via her attorney.

"Judges in these child custody cases are often weighing very complex issues against each other. Here the commissioner was clearly impressed with the fact that the boys had a longstanding ongoing relationships with their father," said Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Law at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York. "The boy who lived with him appeared to be doing very well ... to upset that apple cart at a sensitive time in the life of two young teenagers carries risks of its own."

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