WOODVILLE, TX (KTRE) - A rescheduled child custody hearing for the four-year-old daughter of a Zavalla man killed in a double homicide on Jan. 18 reconvened in the Tyler County Courthouse Wednesday afternoon.
The hearing recessed Wednesday evening and will re-convene on Friday.
Judge David Dunn rescheduled the custody hearing on Feb. 5 after council for both the paternal grandparents and the maternal grandparents, whom are both fighting for custody, asked for more time to prepare their evidence.
The girl has been in the custody of her maternal grandparents, but Child Protective Services took her out of their care on Jan. 23 because of "safety issues." Since then, the child has been living in foster care.
Nathan Bradley Maddox, 35, and his wife, Krystal Renee Maddox, 31, were on a supervised visitation with Nathan's daughter at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, which is located on CR 3725 in Tyler County, when they were shot and killed outside the church.
During opening arguments, Lufkin attorney Ryan Deaton, who is representing the paternal grandparents of the child, says he believes Nathan and Krystal Maddox had no enemies, except the maternal grandparents.
He went on to say he believes the evidence is going to make it real clear that the "murderers are in this room."
Coy Lee Collins, Jr., a special investigator with Child Protective Services, testified he was called into investigate the case because he specializes in high-profile cases.
Collins said the CPS investigation is ongoing because they are unsure if the child had seen or knows the shooter or shooters. He added that he was told by law enforcement before CPS took custody of the child, that methamphetamine and a syringe were found inside a bag in the maternal grandparents' home.
Upon further investigation, the maternal grandparents told law enforcement that the drugs belonged to her daughter, Kristen, and they had kept the drugs because they were afraid Kristen was going to take the child out of the residence, Collins said.
He said all parties fighting in the custody case, including Kristen, tested negative in a drug test requested by Judge David Dunn.
Collins said CPS took the child out of her maternal grandparents care based off of findings from law enforcement, and the fact that raw sewage was found leaking onto the property. He said it's an "unsafe, unsanitary condition," for a child.
"We felt the child was in danger, and still feel the child is in danger at that home," Collins said. "Number one, the methamphetamine was found inside a dresser drawer that was accessible to the child."
He made it clear that this information was relayed to him by law enforcement.
The CPS investigator said during a law enforcement interview with the child, she said she had "secrets," but would not elaborate on those "secrets."
"I believe [the child] had been instructed to not share things with law enforcement," Collins said.
Although, he did say that this is purely speculation.
Collins stressed that the information of the drugs was given to him by law enforcement, and he did not see the drugs, nor recover them. He also said law enforcement gave him information that a loaded .22-caliber revolver was found on a nightstand in what is said to be in Kristen's bedroom
Anthony Hilts, an investigator with the Texas Environmental Protection Agency, said he went to the maternal grandparents' residence after he received a complaint that raw sewage was escaping onto their property.
He said upon further investigation, he noticed toilet paper and raw sewage discharging out of a sewage pipe. Hilts said he was unable to locate a septic system, and he traced the pipe to a fence line where the opening of the pipe was located.
The family was given 90 days to properly fix the issue, and Hilts said at this time the issue has not been fixed. However, no one from his agency or Hilts has gone back out to the residence to make sure the issue has been fixed. He said at this time he has had no notification that the issue has been fixed.
Hilts said raw sewage is a risk to public health and is an instrument in disease transmission. In regards to how the raw sewage could be a health concern for the child, Hilts said he couldn't specifically comment on that.
"I can state that there is a nuisance there, but as far as the child, that is not something I can say," Hilts said. "It's a potential medium for disease, but again I was only out there to investigate the sewage complaint."
In a video interview with the 4-year-old girl, she told a psychologist that her dad, and Krystal, didn't get along with her mother's family.
The little girl said the day of the double homicide, the mediator that was with her looked at the church window and said Krystal was down, but she didn't say anything about Nathan.
When asked how she's feeling about Nathan and Krystal, she said, "I feel good."
She said no one ever told her what to say.
Deaton suggested that the child was protective of her mother's family and was deflecting some of the questions.
The psychologist who interviewed the child said she believed the child might have been keeping a secret, but after asking her a couple more questions that's when the child told her she wasn't. She said the child seemed intelligent for her age, but nervous.
The psychologist said the child had told her that she wanted to stay with her maternal grandparents, and her mother, because that's where she had grown up. She also said the child had admitted that sometimes she didn't want to see her dad. However, the psychologist said it seems that the child didn't really understand what happened.
She said the child did tell her that her mother's family had been planning a trip to Mexico. She said they were going to go down there to "check it out."
Chuck Marshall, a deputy with the Tyler County Sheriff's Department, said he found a bag of methamphetamine on Jan.18, which is the day of the murder.
Marshall said his partner found a clear bag inside a dresser drawer inside the maternal grandparents' house containing drug residue and a syringe. He said the maternal grandmother told him that she was keeping that inside the house in case they needed to get back at their daughter, Kristen. He said they didn't elaborate further.
The deputy said he doesn't know how much drugs were inside the bag, or if any methamphetamine was inside the bag. Marshall said he does not know what was in the syringe.
He said there was probably a drop of methamphetamine inside the syringe.
"All I could see was there was something brown or black," Marshall said.
He said the maternal grandmother admitted the .22-caliber pistol found inside Kristen's room was in there because she felt unsafe. He said during a second search warrant investigation on Jan. 20, they learned that pistol was moved to the maternal grandmother's bedroom.
In a previous story, Bud Sturrock, the chief investigator for the Tyler County Sheriff's Office, said the couple was leaving the church when the child and a mediator said they heard up to five shots. The mediator called 911 and was told to lock the church doors and stay inside until law enforcement arrived.
A justice of the peace pronounced them dead at the scene.
According to nearly 300 pages of court documents the East Texas News discovered, Maddox and his ex-wife, Kristen, had been going through a nasty child custody battle.
"The child custody issue could have been a motivating factor in the shootings," said Chief Deputy Phil Ryan of the Tyler County Sheriff's Office.
Ryan also told the East Texas News that they are looking at several scenarios including a murder-for-hire plot.
In October, Nathan Maddox filed a motion against the maternal grandparents to modify the parent/child relationship, stating the grandfather had a history of family violence. In the motion, it says the grandfather choked him and screamed that he was going to kill him while pointing a shotgun at him.
A $2,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to an arrest or conviction of those responsible for killing Nathan and Krystal Maddox.