An American soldier is currently waging a personal battle against the State of Arizona for the right to keep custody of his wife’s child, after she sold him to another couple.
24-year-old Sgt. Steven Garcia was stationed out in Seoul, South Korea as a patrol supervisor, when he got word his wife, Marina, gave birth to a stillborn son.
However, he later found out he was alive and she’d sold him to a couple from Texas, US.
While Sgt. Garcia isn’t the biological father of the baby, he’s still fighting through the court system to have sole custody of him.
According to Stars and Stripes, it all started back in January, when Steven’s sister told him on the phone, Marina had given birth back home in Arizona.
Naturally, the news left Steven devastated and in an emotional state, however, within a month of the child’s supposed death, he discovered the child was actually alive and well, reports the New York Post.
In February, a highway patrolman in Arizona pulled over a couple from Texas, driving with an out-of-state licence plate.
Inside the car was a three-day-old baby boy, who turned out to be the child Marina had given birth to. It’s believed she sold the baby to the couple because she wanted nothing more to do with the newborn.
News 4 Tucson KVOA-TV/YouTube
The couple, 33-year-old Alex Hernandez and Leslie Morin Hernandez, aged 41, were brought in for questioning. The police discovered they were not the child’s actual parents.
Instead, Alex had signed the birth certificate fraudulently, posing as the father after agreeing to a deal with Marina, the child’s biological mother.
They were later taken into custody while the child was put in the care of Arizona’s Department of Child Safety. Marina was later taken in by police for questioning where she admitted to signing away her paternal rights.
Cochise County Attorney, Brian McIntyre, told KVOA:
The only thing on her mind was getting rid of this child, this problem in her life.
When Steven left to serve overseas last May, he thought Marina was pregnant with his child.
However, despite not knowing who the actual father is, Marina is adamant Steven is not the child’s father because he was stationed abroad. Yet Steven told detectives the last time the two had sex was around the time of conception.
Speaking to the KVOA the US Army Sgt. said:
I was under the assumption the entire time that she was pregnant that I was the father.
When I found out I wasn’t, I was pretty upset. I was kind of in denial. I couldn’t believe what was going on.
Steven soon rushed back home from Seoul to sort out the child’s custody. His cousin told KVOA Steven was granted eight visits but would not be given custody of ‘Leo’.
Despite the fact he’s not the biological father, it hasn’t stopped Steven fighting a legal battle with the State of Arizona in order to gain custody of the child.
A GoFundMe page has been set up in Steven’s name to help him with his travel and legal fees.
His main motivation for getting custody of the child is the fact Steven himself was adopted, and his adoptive father ‘changed’ his life, so he’s hoping he can do the same.
Without him, I would not be where I am today, and for the opportunity to do that for someone else, I believe it’s important.
It could change the child’s life and give him a better future, and I believe that’s the right thing to do.
On February 8, Marina and the Hernandez couple were charged with kidnapping, fraudulent schemes, conspiracy and fraud by concealment.
Alex and Leslie both pleaded guilty to some of the charges, while the others were dismissed. The couple has since received a four year supervised probation.
Marina pleaded guilty to a felony count of an attempted fraudulent scheme for forging the birth certificate.
She’s expected to be sentenced next month, while her attorney is contesting a recommendation she be sentenced to prison.
So far, the GoFundMe page has raised $3,140, at the tie of writing. If you would like to donate, click here.
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