Florida Judge Awards Custody of 3-Year-Old Girl to Unrelated Sex Offender

A judge in Baker County, Florida, has awarded custody of Miranda Wilkerson, a 3-year-old girl, to a registered sex offender whom she is not related to. The girl will be removed from her grandmother's house, where she has lived since her mother was killed in a car crash just a month after her birth.

The girl's mother, Trista Crews, was 14 years old when she met and was impregnated by Donald Coleman, then 38 years old. He pleaded guilty to having sex with a minor for that dalliance and received probation in addition to registering as a sex offender. Nevertheless, Crews and Coleman married when Crews was just 16, and the couple had two more children.

Then, in 2005, Crews's mother, Rita Manning, said her daughter left Coleman but never filed for divorce.

"She couldn't afford a divorce [because] she was supporting three kids on their own," she tells First Coast News.

During that time, Crews met another man and became pregnant with Miranda. Only a month after Miranda's birth in 2007, Crews was killed in a car crash. At the time of Crews's death, Coleman had filed for divorce but the proceeding was never settled.

Miranda has lived with her grandmother in Baker County ever since, but Coleman initiated a long custody battle after Manning tried to adopt the girl. Because he was technically married to Crews at the time and therefore was Miranda's legal stepfather, a Baker County judge awarded him custody. Coleman now lives in Georgia and also has a history of domestic violence and aggravated assault.

However, Miranda's biological father tells First Coast News he has hired an attorney and will seek custody of his daughter.

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