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In re J.H.

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

January 29, 2015

IN RE J.H. et al

Submitted On Briefs: December 1, 2014.

On the briefs: Michael G. Keefe, Esq., Portland, for appellant father.

Elizabeth J. Ernst, Esq., Douglas, Denham, Buccina & Ernst, Portland, for appellee grandparents.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, and JABAR, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1272

JABAR, J.

[¶1] The father of J.H., J.H., J.H., and J.H. appeals from a judgment of the Cumberland County Probate Court ( Mazziotti, J.) terminating his parental rights pursuant to 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i) (2014). We conclude that the court did not err in presuming jeopardy against the father pursuant to 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1-A)(A) (2014), and that the evidence supports the court's findings by a clear and convincing standard. We therefore affirm the judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] The following facts are supported by competent record evidence.[1] See In re B.C., 2014 ME 99, ¶ 16, 97 A.3d 1086. On July 25, 2011, the father was at the mother's home in New Gloucester with the mother, the children, and the father's childhood friend, Trevor Mills. Mills left the home to pick up food and, when he returned, the father shot him with a handgun.

[¶3] The mother fled the home with the children just before Mills was shot. She placed three of the children in her vehicle, but could not drive away because her keys were inside the house. She then called 9-1-1 on her cell phone and reported that Mills had been shot and that the father was going to kill her in front of the children. The oldest son, then seven years old, stood on the lawn nearby. The father approached the mother and shot her as she pleaded for her life. The shooting occurred in full view of the oldest son and just feet away from the other children, who were sitting in the mother's car. The father then drove off in his vehicle, leaving

Page 1273

the mother lying mortally wounded in the driveway.[2] The mother and Mills both died the next day.

[¶4] After the killings, the oldest son began to experience sleep loss, panic attacks, and nightmares. He and his brother continue to suffer from ...


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