Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Custody Hearing Shows Lonzie's Sister Doing Well; Both Parents Fight for Custody While Awaiting Their Criminal Trials

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Custody Hearing Shows Lonzie's Sister Doing Well; Both Parents Fight for Custody While Awaiting Their Criminal Trials

Article excerpt

Byline: Larry Hannan

The 5-year-old sister of missing toddler Lonzie Barton is doing well and beginning to come out of her shell with the help of therapy and the efforts of her grandmother, a juvenile court judge was told Wednesday during a hearing that focused on the young child.

The hearing was originally supposed to focus on whether either of the girl's parents could regain custody of the child. Christopher Arin Barton and Lonna Lauramore Barton both sought individual custody of the girl and told Circuit Judge David Gooding at a Sept. 16 hearing that they wouldn't use drugs and would work to regain custody of their child.

The estranged couple was arrested hours later in Baker County on drug charges and have been in jail ever since. The daughter is now living with a grandmother.

Attorney's representing the child, as well as lawyers for the Department of Children and Family Services and lawyers representing Christopher Barton and Lauramore Barton were in court. From the bench, Gooding thanked all the lawyers for their hard work.

"It's always difficult to have incarcerated parents," Gooding said, while adding that it was especially difficult when the criminal charges are in a separate county from where the custody situation is occurring.

Lauramore Barton, 25, was in court in a prison uniform wearing shackles. Christopher Barton, 41, participated by phone from the Baker County jail, but neither parent said much.

Gooding said he'd received written reports saying the child was responding well to therapy and the grandmother was helping. He also inquired about the mental-health status of the parents.

Lawyers for both said they had been examined by psychiatrists and that written reports would be available in the next week or so.

The next hearing was set for Nov. 16.

Lonzie Barton disappeared July 24 while William Ruben Ebron Jr. …

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