03/03/2015 // Paris, Texas, US // JusticeNewsFlash // Brenda Cherry // (press release)
A Texas mother embroiled in a long-standing court battle with the father of her twin boys says she was recently punished by a judge for refusing to comply with an unreasonable demand. On February 2, 2015, a hearing was held for Krystal Finnie at the Lamar County Courthouse in Paris Texas. The hearing was scheduled to determine whether Finnie would be held in contempt of court following allegations that she was preventing the children’s visitations with their father, who reportedly lives 142 miles out of town. The father, Robert Kaleb Newberry, made the accusations after saying he was not able to see the 6-year-old twins over the Christmas holidays per a court order.
Newberry said on the witness stand that Finnie was keeping his children from him. Newberry admitted that he had kept his children over the past weekend, but said he did not see them during Christmas as ordered by the court. He also complained about other occasions in which he claimed Finnie did not drop off the children to meet him.
Finnie provided text messages as evidence to verify that Newberry was showing up at the police station on days other than what were court ordered. Finnie’s court appointed attorney Brandon Bell failed to introduce any of the texts evidence. Nor did he argue the point before the judge. He also failed to call witnesses that had been sworn in.
Both Finnie and Newberry agree that after a child visitation hearing in 2013, there had been no major battles until Newberry decided to move 142 miles away to Corsicana, Texas. Finnie said, “For the first few three or four months, Kaleb didn’t try to visit. When he did finally contact me he refused to tell me what town he lived in. It was over a year before he finally told me where he moved to.” Finnie provided text messages that verified this.
Finnie said the most recent ordeal began when one of her twin sons, who has serious vision problems, came home from a December 2014 visit with his father without his glasses. According to a doctor’s report provided by Finnie, the child has a serious eye condition that requires him to wear his glasses at all times even during play. Finnie stated, “When I texted his father to ask about the glasses he said he was playing with the boys outside and that the glasses were lost somewhere under the leaves in the yard. I asked him what he was going to do about it and he told me that’s what child support is for.”
Text messages provided by Finnie show one of Newberry’s comments being, “I’m not paying for the damn glasses.”
Finnie said she ordered replacement glasses the day after her son returned, but did not receive them by the time of the scheduled visitation. She said her son started experiencing headaches every day and bumped into things. Finnie stated, “If the glasses were lost under leaves in the yard, all he had to do was rake the leaves. It would have saved our son from a lot of pain. I could not send him away for over two weeks without his glasses.” Newberry contacted an attorney and a contempt of court motion was filed over the issue.
During the hearing held before Judge Will Biard, Newberry said that he had taken Finnie to court last year because she was not showing up at the Paris Police Department to drop off his children. Court documents show that Newberry was requesting that Finnie be jailed and be required to pay his attorney fees and court costs. He stated, “I’ve been nice but now I’m tired.”
After brief testimony Finnie was told that if she agreed to drive the children halfway to Corsicana to drop them off to Newberry on his visitation days, that would be the end of it. Finnie stated that she absolutely would not drive the 71 miles to meet up with Newberry. Judge Biard ended up holding Finnie in contempt of court. She was placed on probation and ordered to pay Newberry’s attorney fees and court costs.
According to Finnie, the contentious relationship between she and Newberry has been escalated by acts of domestic violence against her, something she says the judges in Paris family court have never treated as a factor. Police records show that on February 2, 2011, Newberry assaulted Finnie causing her bodily damage. He was trespassed from her home. Police records also show that on September 30, 2011, Newberry went to Finnie’s place of employment and assaulted her there. He was trespassed from there as well.
Says the mother, “The reason we have to meet at the police station is because of his violence. There is no way that I’m going to drive to meet with Kaleb so he can beat me up in front of my children like he has before. The judge would just have to put me in jail before I would do that.”
Finnie went on to say of the recent case, “I’m just confused. I don’t know what happened. The judge was rolling his eyes and acted like he didn’t want to be there and my attorney just sat shuffling through papers like he was confused. I don’t feel like I was represented at all.”
Interestingly, Finnie received a harsher punishment for not turning over her children for Christmas than Newberry received for the assaults against her. Newberry was never arrested and never had to face a judge for his crimes. Police reports also reveal that Newberry has multiple drug arrests as well as a DWI and a public intoxication arrest. Finnie has no criminal history.
The African American mother questions whether her race and the race of her young boys’ father, who is Caucasian, has led to his receiving preferential treatment in the court system of a town with a history of allegations that racism impacts various facets of the community. Paris is where an up to 7-year prison sentence of a 14-year-old African American student accused of pushing a hall monitor garnered international media attention, and sparked several protests in the town.
Says Finnie of the matter, “If I was a white woman and Kaleb was a black man with the criminal record he has, there is no way the judge would punish me in part for things he caused and for not being willing to drive 70 something miles away to be around somebody that has attacked me numerous times.”
Finnie said that since she received her sentence, Newberry been taunting her with text messages.