The Union County Sheriff’s Office charged a mother in hiding with her young daughter with felony child abduction in mid-January despite the advice of a criminal law expert who advised otherwise.
Kristy Brooks was arrested in late January after being charged with one count of felony child abduction.
The UCSO got a magistrate to sign a warrant for Brooks’ arrest for the charge just days after she spoke to WBTV while in hiding.
At the time of Brooks’ interview with WBTV, she was wanted on a civil contempt order that had been issued by a district court judge because Brooks failed to follow an order requiring Brooks’ daughter to live with the child’s father.
Months later, the Union County District Attorney refused to present the child abduction charge to the grand jury. Instead, Brooks was indicted on one count of felony obstruction of justice.
New records uncovered by WBTV show the DA had a conversation with a criminal law expert at the UNC School of Government months before Brooks was charged by the sheriff’s office.
District Attorney Trey Robison contacted School of Government Professor Jeff Welty just before Thanksgiving 2016 about the case, emails obtained by WBTV show.
Robison wanted Welty’s opinion on whether a felony child abduction charge would be appropriate for Brooks, who had been in hiding with her daughter for nearly a year at the time of the initial communication.
Welty said three different charges might be possible: kidnapping, child abduction and obstruction of justice. Ultimately, though, Welty offered reasons as to why the kidnapping and child abduction charges wouldn’t fit.
“Abduction of a child might be difficult to prove because it sounds like mother did not abduct the child or induce the child to leave father. Rather, it sounds like mother had the child at the time the new custody order came into effect and has…