CANTON, Mass. – A man who murdered his wife six years ago and left their 8-year-old son to find her body agreed Monday to give up his parental rights.
Daniel Holland (search) had been scheduled to face a closed-door trial Monday in Norfolk County Probate and Family Court on whether his parental rights should be terminated. Instead, he agreed to a settlement waiving any right to be part of Patrick Holland's (search) life, said guardian Ron Lazisky, of Sandown, N.H., and state child welfare officials.
Patrick, 14, had publicized his determination to terminate his father's parental rights, saying Holland forfeited the role of a parent the night he shot Liz Holland eight times in their Quincy, Mass., home. Patrick was sleeping in the next room.
"It's like a big weight's been lifted off my shoulders, knowing that I don't have to worry about him being in my life," Patrick said Monday morning.
Lazisky said he and his wife, Rita, who was Liz Holland's best friend, would file immediately to adopt Patrick.
Holland is serving life in prison without parole for first-degree murder. He is appealing.
Holland also agreed to give up any interest in his dead wife's estate, even if his conviction is overturned, said Lazisky and Denise Montiero, spokeswoman for the Department of Social Services. She said Holland cannot appeal.
Holland participated Monday by video hookup from prison. As the hour-long hearing drew to a close, his lawyer, Patricia Gorman, said Holland wanted to speak and to tell Patrick he loved him, Lazisky said.
"Patrick got up and walked right out before the judge even ruled," Lazisky said. He said the judge denied Gorman's request.
Asked why he walked out, Patrick said, "Because I just didn't want to hear that from him."
"I don't think he did it for me; I just think he did it to make himself look good, to make himself look rehabilitated," he said.
Because the hearing was closed, lawyers said they could not comment. Gorman had not returned repeated phone messages before the hearing.
Five states make domestic murder grounds for terminating parental rights, but Massachusetts is not one of them, according to the Family Violence Department of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (search).
After the murder, the Laziskys and grandparents on both sides sought custody of Patrick.
The Laziskys eventually got custody in a settlement with Daniel Holland's parents, but they agreed not to try to adopt Patrick until 2005, when Patrick would be old enough to have a major say. Because there was no adoption, Holland's parental rights were never terminated.
That was fine with Patrick and the Laziskys until Holland began trying to get Patrick's school and counseling records. They responded by suing to try to terminate his parental rights.
Probate Court Judge Robert Langlois threw the case out in February because the Laziskys and Patrick live in New Hampshire and Patrick is a minor. The judge reinstated the case two months later after the Department of Social Services intervened on Patrick's behalf.
Daniel Holland had sought to intervene in his dead wife's estate on Patrick's behalf, demanding an inventory and a final accounting from the estate's administrator, his former father-in-law, Robert McCrocklin.
McCrocklin, of Fairfax, Va., did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.