Conflicts have put DA's office in a tight spot, but girl wants to see dad
Ward Weaver's 13-year-old daughter probably will be allowed to visit the murder suspect in jail soon, unless previously undisclosed information convinces a juvenile court judge that the visits are not in the girl's best interest.
Clackamas County Circuit Judge Deanne Darling continued a hearing Tuesday to next Thursday to give the Clackamas County district attorney's office an opportunity to present such evidence.
Darling postponed her ruling on the visitation issue after Deputy District Attorney Summer Gleason, whose office opposes the visits, said: 'The DA's office is aware of facts this courtisn't aware of' and that other parties at the hearing 'may not have all of the information they need to make a responsible decision.'
Weaver, 39, has been in custody since Aug. 13, when he was arrested for an alleged sexual assault on his son Francis Weaver's 19-year-old girlfriend earlier that day. He subsequently was indicted on six counts of aggravated murder in the deaths of Oregon City girls Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis, who had been daughter Mallori's former friends and classmates.
Darling, who talked to Mallori privately at some time before the hearing, said that the girl 'loves her dad, believes totally in his innocence É wants desperately to see him and shows obvious signs of being well-parented in his care. I think I need to listen to this bright, capable, resilient young woman.'
In 1997, Weaver obtained physical and legal custody of Mallori from Marie Shaw, his ex-wife and Mallori's mother.
In 2000, Weaver admitted to police that he had spanked Mallori, then 11, with a leather belt for getting in trouble at school. Weaver never was charged.
Now in the legal custody of the state, Mallori recently was placed in the physical custody of her mother, who also has physical custody of Mallori's brothers, Alex, 17, and Mark, 15.
Mallori has not seen her father since his arrest because of jail rules about visitation by minors. Darling, Mallori's court-appointed attorney, Mallori's therapist and the state Department of Human Services all have expressed support for some form of visitation.
The judge did rule Tuesday that Weaver can begin writing his daughter as a prelude to the anticipated visits and indicated support for Mallori's request to be returned to his custody if he is acquitted.
Mallori's attorney, James Bernstein of Oregon City, told Darling that he had asked the district attorney's office for any information indicating that visits with her father would be detrimental to Mallori. 'I've received nothing,' he said.
Darling also expressed concern Tuesday about the district attorney's office advocating for Mallori's 'best interest' in juvenile court at the same time it has called her as a grand jury witness and indicated its intention to subpoena her for Weaver's trial.
Darling asked Gleason, whose office files the juvenile dependency cases heard in Clackamas County Ñ including Mallori's Ñ how she perceived the district attorney's role in Tuesday's hearing.
Gleason indicated that it was 'to find a way she (Mallori) is least harmed by all of this.'
Darling said she was 'concerned about the unfortunate role that the state Legislature has put the DA in this case Ñ to prosecute Mallori's dad and to protect Mallori's best interest.
'I continue to wonder,' Darling told Gleason, 'how anybody could do both at the same time.'