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U.S. law pushed boy home before he died
Tribal statute advocates reunifying split families

By Nolan Clay and Randy Ellis Modified: October 4, 2007 at 3:34 pm •  Published: October 4, 2007
A new report on the alleged murder of an Edmond boy reveals he was reunited with his mother because of a controversial federal law even though state officials wanted her parental rights terminated because of “shocking” abuse.

Declan Stewart, 5, died Aug 12.

He had been returned to his mother, Janet L. Stewart, 29, about five weeks before.

The mother’s boyfriend, Marcus I. Clancy, 30, is charged with first-degree murder.

A state oversight agency reported that a judge found decisions involving Declan were covered by the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law that promotes reunification of separated Indian families.

The Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth reviewed actions taken by the state Department of Human Services, the Oklahoma County district attorney and the judge. It issued a 16-page report Wednesday evening.

Declan had been removed from his mother’s care in January 2006 after he was taken to a hospital emergency room for treatment.

The report shows both the district attorney and the Department of Human Services had wanted the judge to terminate the mother’s parental rights “based on the heinous and shocking nature of the abuse.”

The oversight agency’s report shows the state withdrew a request for termination of the mother’s parental rights because the Cherokee Nation didn’t agree with it.

Declan was placed back in the mother’s home July 3 but remained officially in DHS custody.

“A journal entry in the court record stated that the mother had completed her treatment plan and that the Cherokee Nation was in agreement with the reunification,” the report shows. Read the report

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Declan Stewart: The Edmond 5-year-old died Aug. 12, about five weeks after a judge ordered the state Department of Human Services to return him to his mother.

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