Our View: Weiler's custody bill sensible

Wednesday , June 19, 2013 - 11:42 AM

Editorial Board

We support state Sen. Todd Weiler’s proposal that would allow judges to consider removing a parent’s custody rights to his or her child if that parent is a suspect in the murder of a spouse. The proposal puts an emphasis on protecting children during a situation in which one parent is suspected of the murder of another. The children are innocents in such a dire situation, and vulnerable.

The Woods Cross Republican legislator’s bill comes as a result of the murder case in which John Brickman Wall is charged with the murder of his ex-wife, Uta Von Schwedler, a University of Utah biologist. Prior to Wall’s arrest in April, Wall and Schwendler’s son, Pelle Wall, had tried to get younger siblings away from his father’s home.

Prior to Wall’s being arrested, Weiler had worked with the family on legislation to prevent similar occurrences. “To me, it’s ludicrous that right now we have children in this state that have to sleep with weapons under their pillows. I believe our justice system is failing them,” Weiler said while at a May interim legislative meeting.

The legislation is similar to a legislative effort in Washington state, which surfaced after Josh Powell, husband of the missing Susan Powell, murdered his children and killed himself while in a custody dispute with Susan Powell’s parents. Weiler legislation differs slightly with the Washington bill in that a judge makes the decision to remove the child from the parent. Chuck Cox, parent of Susan Powell, has endorsed Weiler’s proposal, adding that he and his wife, Judy, may travel to Utah to testify in support of Weiler’s proposal.

Again, the chief reason Weiler’s custody bill makes sense is because it protects a child from a parent who is suspected of killing his spouse. At that point, the judicial system determines future decisions in the case.

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