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Fugitive mom wants access to daughter

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 18. 2014 8:00PM


The lawyer representing fugitive mom Genevieve Kelley says Kelley’s daughter, in hiding with her mother for 10 years, would come forward today if prosecutors would agree to different bail conditions.

At issue is whether Mary Nunes, now 18, should be allowed to have contact with her mother while the kidnapping case works its way through the courts.

Genevieve Kelley, formerly of Whitefield, is now being held on $50,000 cash bail after turning herself in to authorities Monday, ending a decade-long mystery as to her whereabouts.

She offered no information on the location of her daughter, but it didn’t have to be that way, according to attorney Alan D. Rosenfeld of Colorado.

Rosenfeld specializes in cases involving mothers charged with kidnapping their own children amid allegations of abuse by the father.

Although Kelley made such accusations against her ex-husband, Mark Nunes, as the custody battle raged on in 2004, the charges were never substantiated and Nunes was never charged.

Kelley disappeared with her daughter and husband, Scott Kelley, after failing to appear at a custody hearing in Coos County. The court gave full custody of Mary, then 8, to Nunes, who has never seen her since.

The case was featured over the years on “America’s Most Wanted,” and most recently on the CNN program, “The Hunt,” with John Walsh. Nunes hired a private investigator and set up a website, but Kelley remained at large until she turned herself in on Monday at the Coos County Superior Court in Lancaster.

The publicity had nothing to do with Kelley’s decision to turn herself in, according to Rosenfeld, who said she is anxious to go to trial on the kidnapping charges and expects to be vindicated.

Kelley had hoped to reach a deal with Coos County Attorney John McCormick, to return to New Hampshire and face trial, as long as she could stay out of jail pending the decision of a jury.

Letter to prosecutor

In a Sept. 5 letter to McCormick, a copy of which was obtained by the Union Leader (click to read), Kelley pleads her case.

“I am offering to voluntarily surrender and stand trial for any charges filed against me for protecting my daughter,” she writes. “For nearly 10 years, in spite of the publicity, my whereabouts have remained a mystery to law enforcement officials. The fact that I am offering to return and surrender voluntarily serves as evidence that I will not be a flight risk.”

But McCormick wasn’t buying it.

“I was basically concerned that she would just flee again,” he said. “My position was, she has a history of running when things got rough.”

Ultimately, Kelley decided to stop running because, according to Rosenfeld, “She wants a trial. It’s as simple as that ... We want a jury to look at the facts of this case, and decide if her belief was objectively reasonable.”

Rosenfeld hopes to convince a jury that Kelley had good cause to believe her daughter was being abused and couldn’t be protected by the courts. “She has a legal right and a legal obligation to protect,” he said.

Nunes has steadfastly denied any abuse over the years. Police investigators filed no charges, and a guardian ad litem appointed by the court failed to find any evidence to support Kelley’s accusations.

While both sides await a likely trial, the question of bail amounts and bail conditions has moved front and center.

Bail called too low

McCormick sought $250,000 bail, but Judge Peter Bornstein set bail at $50,000. The private investigator hired by Nunes says that’s outrageously low for someone who has been a fugitive for so long.

As a condition of bail, Kelley must waive extradition, hand over her passport, and have no contact with her daughter. That last condition is preventing Mary Nunes from surfacing, according to her lawyer.

“I think it’s almost shocking that the judge granted the prosecutor’s request for no contact with Mary,” he said. “Mary is 18 years old. She has lived her whole life with her mother, and the prosecutor, for some vindictive reason, wants to say you’re not allowed to live with your mother.”

McCormick says there’s nothing in the bail conditions that prevent Mary from coming forward. “She’s an adult. She can come forward any time she wants,” he said.

According to Rosenfeld, Mary could come forward once her mother is free on bail — something that is likely to happen, he said, although it may take some time to raise $50,000.

“Once Genevieve makes bail, if the courts allow, Mary will come out of hiding and come live with her mom right away,” he said. “We will ask the judge to reconsider that condition.”

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