CHEYENNE – The termination of a local woman’s parental rights was affirmed by the Wyoming Supreme Court in a court opinion issued last week.
Denise Lynn Mets appealed the parental rights termination by Laramie County District Judge Thomas Campbell following a jury trial. Mets argued that the district court abused its discretion when it allowed her former physician’s testimony and medical records into evidence during trial, which she argued was privileged and shouldn’t have been included.
Mets argued that without this medical information, the state wouldn’t have meet its burden of proof to terminate her parental rights.
Mets had previously released the medical records in a juvenile case, which is the release the Wyoming Department of Family Services used to bring that information into the parental rights termination trial. Mets objected to this and said her medical release didn’t apply to this case.
However, the Supreme Court found that Campbell didn’t err in allowing the physician to testify and the medical records into evidence. The Supreme Court said there was enough evidence during the five-day jury trial to reach a guilty verdict, even if the medical testimony didn’t occur.
The jury ultimately terminated Mets’ rights for two reasons: parental neglect of the child, and reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the family were unsuccessful; and the child was in foster care for 15 of the last 22 months while the parent was unfit to have custody.
According to the court opinion:
Mets gave birth to her daughter in April 2014, and the baby was immediately taken into protective custody. During the course of Mets’ pregnancy, she was hospitalized twice for her mental health and admitted to using drugs. She told doctors she was fantasizing about suicide and infanticide during her pregnancy.
She also asked a nurse “how to harm the baby while it was still in utero” and walked out of the room when a nurse asked her to feed the baby after its birth. Mets also repeatedly refused medication and treatment for her mental health conditions that she was diagnosed with several times by various doctors.
After the child was born, Mets refused to comply with the DFS case plan and the caseworkers. Her visitations with her daughter were also canceled due to safety concerns because at one visit Mets brought a knife, and she frequently lived in “inappropriate, dangerous or unclean housing.”
Mets also hasn’t seen her daughter since she was 2 years old; the child is currently around the age of 5. DFS also argued that Mets has no bond with the child.