OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley dropped her request Wednesday to extradite the biological father of a Cherokee girl who was at the center of a bitter custody dispute, but he could still face a charge of custodial interference if he goes to South Carolina.
Dusten Brown, of Nowata, Okla., had been scheduled to appear in court in Sequoyah County in Oklahoma on Thursday to face extradition to South Carolina.
Brown in August was charged in South Carolina with custodial interference for failing to hand over 4-year-old Veronica to her adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco of James Island, S.C.
Brown and the Capobiancos had been in a custody dispute over the little girl for years. But last week, Brown handed over the girl after the Oklahoma Supreme Court lifted an emergency stay that had kept her in Oklahoma.
Though he won't be extradited, Brown could still face the charge if he returns to South Carolina.
Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, the state prosecutor for the Charleston, S.C., area, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment about the status of the criminal charge.
Veronica's birth mother was pregnant when she put the girl up for adoption, and the Capobiancos had been lined up to receive custody since 2009.
But Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation, and his family claimed the Indian Child Welfare Act mandated that the child be raised within the Cherokee Nation, and he won custody when the girl was 2.
The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed in 1978 with the intent of reducing the high rates of Native American children being adopted by non-Native American families.
A South Carolina court cited the law when awarding Veronica to Brown in 2011, but the U.S. Supreme Court said this summer that the law did not apply in Brown's case because he had been absent from the child's life.
Associated Press writer Bruce Smith in Charleston, S.C., contributed to this report.
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