Charleston sheriff: 'Everything he does is a continuing felony' - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Charleston sheriff: 'Everything he does is a continuing felony'

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Dusten Brown Dusten Brown
Dusten and Robin Brown discuss case on CNN's Legal View (Source: CNN) Dusten and Robin Brown discuss case on CNN's Legal View (Source: CNN)
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JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said Monday afternoon that Dusten Brown has skirted the law repeatedly since a judge ordered him to surrender his biological daughter.

Brown on Monday morning, appeared in what Cannon called a totally uninvolved county to surrender to deputies there. He was quickly moved through a bond hearing and released.

As a result, Brown is no longer considered a fugitive.

"It's my belief that they didn't have any insight into ramifications of this case," Cannon said of the arresting county's deputies, who released Brown in under an hour.

Cannon said in a press conference that agents found Brown as he was leaving the Sequoyah County Sheriff's Office, but his attorneys stopped him from telling investigators where Veronica was located.

"This is not the typical way a fugitive warrant is handled," Cannon said. "Everything that he does -- like the move that he made this morning, in fact, the issue with the National Guard -- all of that is a continuing felony."

Cannon went on to say that almost every act Brown makes helps Charleston County deputies build a case against him.

As a result, Cannon said South Carolina and Oklahoma officials do not know exactly where Brown or Veronica are. Cannon said Charleston County officials have now reached out to Gov. Nikki Haley, asking her to sign a governor's warrant for Brown.

Haley signed the warrant Monday evening and sent it to Oklahoma's governor by overnight mail service, according to her office spokesman.

Cannon did not know how far along in the process the governor's office was in filing a warrant for Brown's arrest, but he was confident the governor would sign it once it reached her desk, if the case had not been resolved before then. 

"His actions are only digging his hole deeper," Cannon said.

Clark Brewster, Brown's attorney, said from the information he has gathered, he believes it's premature to charge Brown with a crime and involved police agencies and governors from two states.

According to Brewster, the adoption ruling is not final because a motion to reconsider was filed and is still under review.

Brewster said he will meet Brown for the first time on Tuesday to discuss how to proceed and whether they will fight the extradition or take the fight back into South Carolina courts.

 

Criminal case against Brown builds

The biological father of a 3-year-old girl caught up in a multi-state custody battle did not appear at a tribal hearing Monday morning, according to a report from a Tulsa newspaper.

Dusten Brown has been taken into custody by Oklahoma authorities, the newspaper reported and Cherokee Nation attorneys confirmed Monday morning. An arrest warrant had been issued for Brown after he failed to appear at a transition meeting last week.

He was slated to appear at a tribal court hearing Monday morning at 9 a.m. CST. It is unclear if Brown was taken into custody when the hearing was convened or before he made his way to the hearing location.

According to Tulsa World, Monday morning's hearing lasted less than an hour and a court-appointed official representing Veronica's best interests left the hearing without making a statement.

KTUL, the ABC affiliate in Tulsa, reports that the hearing was a guardianship hearing. Outside the Cherokee Nation, groups supporting Brown were picketing, the affiliate reported.

Brown was taken into custody by Sequoyah County Sheriff's Office, according to online records. He bonded out shortly after that, records show. The Charleston County Sheriff's Office said Brown was released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

Tulsa World reports that Brown refused extradition and was given a order to appear in court again on Sept. 12. The Sequoyah County sheriff told the newspaper that Brown would be extradited to South Carolina as soon as the governor signed an arrest warrant.

Gov. Nikki Haley's office has not said publicly whether they are preparing to file a warrant for Brown's extradition.

A sheriff's office statement says Charleston County officials are working with Oklahoma officials to locate Veronica.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said it is working with state and federal law enforcement to determine the next steps in the case.

Meanwhile in Charleston County, sheriff's office officials are gathering information from Oklahoma officials and making plans to begin the extradition process. Charleston County deputies would be responsible for picking up Brown, which could take days or weeks, according to a sheriff's office spokesman.

There will also be an extradition hearing, which Robin and Dusten Brown have vowed to fight.

The Cherokee Nation said Monday shortly before noon, that Veronica was still in the custody of her biological grandparents and Robin Brown, who have a temporary guardianship order.

S.C. Sen. Tim Scott tweeted Monday afternoon that he was praying for Veronica's safe return to James Island.

The Charleston County Sheriff's Office scheduled a press conference on Brown's arrest that is slated to start at 4:30 p.m.

 

Browns appear on CNN's 'Legal View'

In a taped interview with Ashley Banfield, Dusten Brown talked about the custody battle for the first time on television.

Brown said he and his wife have tried to show Veronica pictures of the Capobiancos, but the pictures do not jog any memories for the 3-year-old.

"She don't quite understand it. She's seen pictures of them with her and she goes, 'Well I know that's me, but who are they?'" Brown said. "I just tell her those are some people that love you, too."

Brown, who was dressed in his Army fatigues, said he was going to continue to fight to retain custody of his biological daughter, a girl courts determined he had given up his rights to before her birth.

"I'm going to fight until I have no fight left in me," he said. "This is my daughter. This is not a yo-yo I can say, 'Hey, I borrowed it for two years. Here's it back.'"

Brown again maintained that changing custody would negatively impact his daughter's life.

"To take her from us is going to be very detrimental to her," he said during the interview. "And it's ripping her heart out. She's a very happy child with us."

 

Strong words start day for adoptive couple

The adoptive couple of Veronica had strong words for the girl's biological father and law enforcement Monday.

Melanie Capobianco said she and her husband, Matt, were fearful for their daughter's safety and well-being and are calling for state and federal authorities -- including Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director Bob Mueller, and Govs. Nikki Haley and Mary Fallin -- to step in and bring their daughter home.

"We simply ask those who have the authority to enforce the law, 'Where are you?' Why are you standing by and watching our daughter veronica be held against our will? Our hand of love has been slapped away and the judicial system has been spit upon," said Melanie Capobianco. "Enough is enough."

Gov. Haley's office said she was working closely with multiple agencies in South Carolina and Oklahoma. "Our goal is to do all we can to get Veronica back home safely," said spokesman Doug Mayer.

Matt Capobianco also had strong words for Dusten Brown and the Cherokee Nation.

"No more delays, no more excuses. Our daughter has been kidnapped and I expect the situation to be treated as such," he said. "Veronica, your daddy's coming."

Matt Capobianco said he would be boarding a plane bound for Oklahoma Monday to recover his daughter, adding that he expects law enforcement to escort him and arrest anyone who tries to stop him.

The Capobiancos' spokeswoman, Jessica Munday, called the 20-day waiting period for Brown to act and file for a new hearing ridiculous.

"Where is our AMBER Alert?" she asked. "A swift message needs to be sent."

Munday said courts have repeated rejected Brown's claims for a new hearing to maintain custody of Veronica, describing Brown as a fugitive from justice who has been moving between states to avoid a Federal warrant.

"Send Veronica home to us -- please," said Melanie Capobianco.

 

Civil matters become criminal

The warrant for Brown's arrest was issued after Veronica, Brown, and representatives from the Brown family and Cherokee Nation failed to appear at the first four-hour transitional meeting between to two families that would eventually result in the Capobiancos taking custody of Veronica.

Brown has been stationed at Camp Dodge in Iowa for Army National Guard training. He was ordered back to Oklahoma over the weekend, his additional training request rejected.

Officials from the Cherokee Nation do not know where Brown is, but they issued a subpoena for his appearance in a tribal council hearing on Monday. That hearing is set to start at 9 a.m. and is expected to be sealed.

Brown argues that he has 20 days file with Oklahoma courts to stop the transfer of custody. He did tell a Tulsa, Okla.,-based newspaper on Thursday that he would comply with court orders.

Both sides have opened up to media in the past week, granting interviews.

In an interview with ABCNews4, the Capobiancos said they wanted to have their adoptive daughter back, but did not want to see something traumatic happen -- like law enforcement officers prying her out of her Oklahoma home.

Veronica's biological father, Dusten Brown, gained custody of Veronica after the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that he had a prevailing right to claim custody based on the 1968 Indian Child Welfare Act. She was removed from the Capobiancos' home on the last day of 2011.

Since then, she has been living in Oklahoma and the Capobiancos, along with Christinna Maldonado -- Veronica's birth mother who hand-picked the James Island couple to adopt her daughter -- and a host of attorneys, have been fighting to regain custody.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that Brown's ICWA-based argument, as well as the South Carolina court's ruling, was in error and ordered the lower court to re-examine the case without consideration of the 1968 law.

That's when the South Carolina Supreme Court decided that the Capobiancos should be the adoptive couple and urged the Charleston family court to finalize Veronica's adoption.

That order led to Sunday's missed meeting, the latest order to immediately return Veronica, Wednesday's scheduled hearing in Charleston, an arrest warrant for Dusten Brown -- and now a tribal council hearing with the Cherokee Nation.

"For law enforcement to treat them any differently than any other parent is a slap in the face to every adoptive parent in America," Munday said.

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