FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 72JV-16-378]
HONORABLE STACEY ZIMMERMAN, JUDGE
Bowers Lee, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for
appellant Ashley Bonner.
Lawrence, for appellant Mickie Richardson.
Firth, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor children.
M. GLOVER, JUDGE.
Richardson and Ashley Bonner have filed separate appeals from
the termination of their parental rights to their three
children, LR, AR, and CR. The termination order was entered
on August 24, 2017, and Ashley and Mickie filed separate,
timely notices of appeal. Mickie challenges the termination
of his parental rights by 1) arguing generally that the
Arkansas Department of Human Services' (DHS)
rehabilitation efforts were not meaningful and reasonable and
that DHS failed to prove a lack of compliance with the case
plan, and 2) arguing that DHS did not prove it was in the
children's best interest to terminate his parental
rights. Ashley challenges the termination of her parental
rights by 1) arguing that DHS did not prove the three
statutory grounds relied upon by the trial court
("failure to remedy, " "subsequent factors,
" and "aggravated circumstances"), and 2)
arguing that DHS did not prove it was in the children's
best interest to terminate her parental rights. We affirm
16, 2016, DHS filed a petition for emergency custody of LR,
AR, and CR- the minor children of Ashley Bonner and Mickie
Richardson. Monika Isenhower, a DHS child-abuse-and-neglect
investigator, submitted the supporting affidavit of facts in
which she alleged DHS received a hotline call on May 10,
2016. According to the affidavit, the hotline caller reported
LR had missed two days of school and her brother, AR, said
the reason was that she had bruises; the father, Mickie, had
hit AR; Mickie had also spanked AR with a belt because AR and
LR had made a video where they "had sex, " which AR
described as kissing each other; and there was a belt mark on
AR's forearm. The affidavit further alleged the mother,
Ashley, agreed to bring all three children to DHS, which she
did; LR was interviewed and reported she had gotten the
bruises on her face from Mickie punching her three times with
his fist; Ashley had told her to tell DHS she had a seizure;
she and her brother AR got in trouble because they had
touched each other's privates and recorded it on their
uncle's phone; their uncle did not know they had done it
because he was asleep when they made the phone video; and
Mickie found the video on the phone. The DHS worker noted LR
had bruising on both sides of her cheekbones, her upper right
eyelid had a dark brown bruise on it, and she had a lighter
brown bruise on the right side of her mouth on top of her
upper lip. She further noted Ashley reported she told Mickie
to stop but he did not. The trial court entered its original
ex parte order for emergency custody on May 16, 2016. On May
19, 2016, the trial court entered a probable-cause order.
adjudication hearing was held on July 13, 2016, after which
the children were found to be dependent-neglected. That
finding was based on neglect, parental unfitness, and
physical abuse by Mickie and a failure to protect by Ashley.
The goal of the case was reunification, and following a
November 30, 2016 review hearing, a trial home placement was
arranged, and the trial court ordered legal custody of the
children would return to Ashley and Mickie on January 28,
2017, if the trial placement went well.
undisputed the trial placement went well enough for custody
of the children to be returned to Ashley and Mickie. However,
soon thereafter, on February 7, 2017, DHS filed a motion for
ex parte emergency change of custody that contained new
allegations of Mickie hitting AR. The motion was granted, and
a probable-cause order was filed on February 8, 2017.
April 14, 2017, a permanency-planning hearing was held and
the goal of the case was changed to adoption. DHS filed a
petition to terminate the parental rights of both Ashley and
Mickie on May 8, 2017. "Failure to remedy, "
"subsequent factors, " and "aggravated
circumstances" were alleged as the statutory grounds for
termination. The termination hearing was held on August 2,
2017. Following that hearing, the trial court entered the
termination order on August 24, 2017.