A Texas jury convicted a Brazilian couple on Friday of aiding the kidnapping of their grandson and relocating him to the South American country, the latest US-Brazil child custody dispute.
Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes were acquitted of other conspiracy charges in a Houston courtroom.
They were arrested last February while arriving in Miami for vacation and charged with aiding in the kidnapping of their eight-year-old grandson Nico Brann five years ago.
Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes (Pictured) were convicted in a Houston courtroom on Friday of aiding in the kidnapping of their grandson
Chris Brann (pictured with son, Nico) claims his ex-wife took their child to Brazil in 2013 intending to stay permanently, while telling him the trip would only last a few weeks
The couple could face a maximum sentence of three years in prison upon sentencing or a simple fine, according to local broadcast affiliate Fox 35.
The couple’s daughter Marcelle Guimaraes, Nico’s mother, allegedly relocated the child to Brazil under false pretenses and without the permission of his American father Chris Brann, a Houston physician.
If the verdict is upheld, the grandparents in their 60s could face up to three years in prison.
The couple’s daughter Marcelle Guimaraes (pictured), Nico’s mother, allegedly relocated the child to Brazil under false pretense
But that verdict was thrown into uncertainty after the presiding judge said he would consider the defense’s request to override the jury’s findings and acquit on all charges, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Such overrides are rarely granted.
The couple presented evidence during trial that the child’s mother was fleeing domestic violence, according to local media.
‘I and our side are crushed,’ the couple’s lawyer Rusty Hardin said outside the courthouse, according to KHOU-TV.
He testified before the US Congress in 2016 to ask Washington to impose sanctions on Brazil for violating an international standard requiring the return of children to their home country, if they were taken in violation of custody agreements.
A similar dispute led to the Sean Goldman Act in 2014, authorizing Washington to take action in international child custody disputes, ranging from public condemnation of other governments to the suspension of US aid.
Brann claims his ex-wife Marcelle Guimaraes took their son to Brazil in 2013 intending to stay permanently, while telling him the trip would only last a few weeks.
‘I never wanted it to come to this and the only thing I want is for my son to come home,’ Brann said following the ruling. ‘I hope they will take responsibility for their actions and do everything they can do have him come home as soon as possible.’
Marcelle Guimaraes’s parents allegedly helped her hide her motives, and enrolled Nico Brann (pictured) in a Brazilian school they operated
The physician noted, however, that if his estranged wife was willing to bring back their son voluntarily, he would personally petition the court to exercise restraint against the grandparents.
‘Despite all the cruelty they have heaped on my extraordinary son Nico, by obstructing his relationship with me, Nico remains my sole concern.
‘If my ex-wife Marcelle returns with Nico to the United States immediately, I will happily appear at the Guimarães’ sentencing hearing to advocate maximum leniency.’
Marcelle Guimaraes’s parents allegedly helped her hide her motives, and enrolled the child in a Brazilian school they operated, before the South American country’s legal system granted the mother full custody.
In 2016, the parents of seven children illegally taken from the US to Brazil asked then-Secretary of State John Kerry to sanction Brazil under the 2014 law.
They argued Brazil had seen no evidence the US takes such abductions seriously.
Chris Brann (L) listens as his attorney, Jared Genser (R), address the media on February 28, 2018