After nearly four hours of closed-door testimony, a Stafford County juvenile court judge decided he would rule in two weeks on the visitation rights for several relatives of one of the baby girls sent home from the University of Virginia Medical Center with the wrong parents.
Judge J. Martin Bass will decide whether the family members of Callie Marie Conley, one set of biological grandparents and two biological aunts, would gain visitation rights, and, if so, what the terms of those rights would be, lawyers for both sides said. Lawyers and family members said that the judge ordered them not to discuss the case further.
The biological grandparents and two aunts of Callie, who has lived with Paula Johnson since birth, are seeking the right to have her one weekend a month and for an unspecified amount of time during holidays and the summer, said their attorney, Michael Groot.
Callie's biological parents, Kevin Chittum and Whitney Rogers, were killed in a car crash shortly before it was revealed that she was switched at birth four years ago.
It was unclear what conditions, if any, Johnson would be willing to accept. Legal experts said the length of the hearing indicated that she was unhappy with the proposal.
Nevertheless, Groot remained optimistic that his clients would be able to gain visitation rights. "I don't know why they would object," he said during a break in the hearing.
Monday's hearing came less than two weeks after a judge in Buena Vista, Va., denied Johnson custody of her biological daughter, Rebecca Grace Chittum, deciding instead to grant her visitation rights for one weekend a month and time during the summer.
After that ruling, the families appeared to put aside the rift that had grown between them in favor of a more amicable approach. Monday's lengthy hearing, however, again brought into question how well the two sides would be able to work together in the future.
In any case, the acrimony and emotion that has marked other court clashes in this unusual case appeared to be present again Monday. At one point, a bailiff emerged from the courtroom to grab a box of tissues for the participants, and the two sides quickly split up without speaking to each another when the hearing ended.