Appeal set on decision to return son to woman who killed infant daughter

August 26, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Maryland's highest court agreed yesterday to hear an appeal of a Montgomery County judge's decision to return a toddler to his mother, who admitted killing her infant daughter in 1992.

The Court of Appeals set oral arguments for December in the emotionally charged case that has rallied adoption advocates.

Attorneys for Latrena Pixley, whose prospects of regaining her 2-year-old son within weeks were tugged away by yesterday's decision, could not be reached. She had won in the Montgomery County Circuit Court, which refused to end her parental rights in favor of an adoption. The Court of Special Appeals upheld that decision last month.

Her lawyers have said previously she is a different person than she was in 1992 -- better educated and working, for example.

Lawyers for Cornilous, the toddler, and Laura Blankman, the Montgomery County police officer trying to adopt the boy she has cared for since he was 4 months old, had challenged the intermediate appeals court opinion. They could not be reached yesterday.

Court rulings so far in this case have created controversy over when, and if, a parent convicted of killing a child can be entrusted with another child and whether state law excessively favors biological parents.

In March 1993, Pixley, then 19, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the District of Columbia Superior Court for smothering her 44-day-old daughter, Nakya. Pixley blamed the crime on postpartum depression.

Four months after Cornilous was born in 1996, Pixley was convicted of credit card fraud in federal court and sent to prison. Blankman then became the baby's temporary custodian.

Pub Date: 8/26/98

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