New lawyer with Quets for sentencing

Reasons for the change are a mystery as the birth mother prepares for Tuesday's hearing

Staff WriterDecember 17, 2007 

When Allison Quets appears at her sentencing hearing scheduled for Tuesday before a federal judge in Raleigh, a new lawyer will be by her side.

James B. Craven III of Durham will represent Quets, the embattled mother who kidnapped her twins during a bitter custody dispute with their adoptive parents, Kevin and Denise Needham of Apex. Quets will appear before U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III.

Craven said little about the case or how he became Quets' latest attorney. Court documents show that four lawyers have withdrawn from Quets' case, including Kathleen Mullin, the New York lawyer who brokered her plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

Some attorneys withdrew because Quets hired new attorneys. Court documents do not contain any explanation for Mullin leaving the case. Mullin did not return repeated phone calls.

Craven said last week that he wants a judge to sentence Quets to time served. Quets spent nearly a year in custody before she pleaded guilty to two counts of international kidnapping in September.

Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of three years.

Supporters of Quets, a former Lockheed Martin engineer, have said that she had been battling psychological problems while in jail, and Mullin has said that those problems were getting worse.

A judge released Quets from prison in September after her plea and ordered her to live with a friend in Wilmington who has a medical background.

Quets had been in jail since her arrest in December in Ottawa, where she had fled with the twins, Holly and Tyler.

When Quets took the twins to Ottawa, they had been living with the Needhams, their adoptive parents.

Quets had visitation rights and was fighting in the Florida courts for custody of the children.

The courts have upheld the adoption by the Needhams.

Quets gave birth to the twins at age 47 after in-vitro fertilization, a process in which fertilization occurs outside a woman's womb.

Friends say she was extremely ill during her pregnancy and gave up the children under duress when they were 5 weeks old.

A loyal following of sympathizers took up her cause after hearing her story. Web sites in her honor were created to solicit support and publicize the case.

Quets vowed to continue the fight to see her children.

Part of her release agreement allowed her to travel to Florida, where custody matters with the Needhams had been continuing.

A few days after her plea, a hearing was scheduled in the twins' adoption in Duval County, Fla.

There also had been a pending civil lawsuit in Florida that Quets filed against the Needhams. A hearing was scheduled in October. It's unclear whether the lawsuit has been resolved.

titan.barksdale@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4802

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