FORT PIERCE — After a sometimes contentious custody battle, a 3-year-old girl orphaned in a double murder and suicide is living with relatives in Georgia.
A circuit court judge's order issued July 8 granted guardianship of the girl to Anne Lussier, the girl's second cousin, and her husband, James Lussier.
"After all she's been through, the Lussiers' are really interested in getting (her) back into a normal routine and let her enjoy her youth," said Vero Beach attorney Kevin Rollin, who represents the Lussiers.
On the evening of April 15, Christopher Covington, the girl's father, shot and killed her 22-year-old mother, Stephanie Carrier, who was pregnant with the couple's second child, and Carrier's 48-year-old mother, Robin Carrier. Covington then killed himself.
Police found the 3-year-old girl uninjured in the family's Fort Pierce home, where the incident occurred. She reportedly told an officer, "Daddy had a big gun."
Senior circuit Judge James Midelis originally ruled that Dana Parks of Fort Pierce, the girl's paternal grandmother, should have custody of the child after Department of Children and Families officials said Parks had cleared a home inspection and no other family members could be found.
Members of the Carrier family complained that the killer's mother shouldn't raise the girl. Several days later, Midelis reversed himself, ruling that Lisa Dupuis of Fort Pierce, the child's great aunt, should have at least temporary custody.
As the switch was being arranged, it was learned that Parks, who had told Midelis she had never been convicted of a crime, had 1994 convictions in California for possession of a controlled substance and willful child cruelty.
At a hastily called Saturday hearing on April 23, Circuit Judge Larry Schack granted DCF's request that any visits between Parks and her granddaughter be supervised.
Parks later was charged with perjury at an official proceeding.
In June, Dupuis withdrew her petition to be the girl's guardian, which led to the Lussiers receiving custody.
Rollin said the Lussiers have filed papers to permanently adopt the child "and expect to receive an order of adoption in the near future."
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Rollin added: "Now (the girl) is with her new parents, and her life is great."