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Mother Doesn't Want Her Sons with a Killer

Trish Conlon lost her custody battle to keep her sons away from stepmom Kristine Cushing, formerly of Laguna Niguel, who was declared insane when she killed her daughters in 1991.

As parents, we have a strong instinct to protect our children.

For one mother, this desire has led to a painful situation. Trish Conlon went to court to permanently change the custody agreement she had with her ex-husband when she learned he was married to and living with his first wife who shot and killed their daughters.

Once residents of Laguna Niguel, Lt. Col. John P. Cushing Jr. and Kristine Cushing had two daughters, ages 4 and 8. Kristine had been a Brownie leader and Sunday school teacher. She began taking Prozac while dealing with a heart condition.

Kristine shot and killed her two daughters as they slept back in 1991. She pleaded temporary insanity due to the Prozac she was taking. Both the prosecuting and defense attorneys agreed.

She was found not guilty by reason of insanity and spent four years in a mental facility. She had 10 years of psychiatric monitoring and was released when it had been determined that she no longer posed a risk.

Conlon and John Cushing had been sharing custody of their two boys, ages 14 and 13, from their marriage. Conlon learned John Cushing had since remarried his ex-wife Kristine. Fearing for the safety of her own boys, Conlon went to court to fight for full custody.

John Cushing had lied about his relationship with ex-wife Kristine and also had his sons lie to their mother about the fact that Kristine was indeed living with him.

Monday the court allowed John Cushing to continue the existing custody agreement he had with Conlon, citing that Kristine had already lived with the boys without any problems.

According Dana Rebik with q13fox.com, "The court has ordered John Cushing to ensure that there are no firearms in the home where the children stay."

The Moms Council lets readers know their opinions on the subject.

  • Wendy Bucknum says: The fact that the truth was not told about who is living at the house with the kids should be a huge red flag. The courts and this father are doing a huge disservice to these kids, in my opinion.
  • Julie Flores says: The fact the court thought enough to make the father remove any firearms from his home speaks to the level of doubt about the safety of the boys. She is either a threat or not a threat. The court ruled she is not, so why remove the firearms?

Look for Mom Talk every Wednesday at 1 p.m. for parenting topics, and get into the discussion.

Shripathi Kamath September 02, 2011 at 10:17 PM
"No matter what you say above, there is nothing that a judge can determine that would make me put my children in the care of a killer rehabilitated or not." Noted. I am not asking you to, nor I am claiming that it is the best (or worst) thing for Trish's kid. What I am pointing out is that the system is in place, and it is something we as a society have decided. We elected leaders who have created this for us. "Since our court system and public servants, and county workers, social services are a horribly flawed system, and Kristine in my opinion should not be allowed to be around children." I disagree with your assessment that such is the case. Sure, every system can be improved, but that's a far cry from stating that it is horribly flawed. Lots of people work hard to make it work, and if they fall short, we need to work with them to improve it. If we want to change it, tweak it, we should. As to your opinion regarding Kristine, again, noted. I get it. You do not want Kristine to be with kids. contd...
Shripathi Kamath September 02, 2011 at 10:27 PM
"The law says what it says and can be spun by any lawyer or jaw jacker to fit loopholes, but that doesn't mean that it has any common sense or correctness. " Except that this case (the trial of Kristine) was a rarity. Where the DA, the attorney and the judge all agreed. When there is a killing involved, DAs often seek something more, it is in their best interests career-wise. A conviction in a homicide case makes one! Judges (wasn't that judge in Red OC?) don't want to be the ones getting blamed for a relapse, so if anything it should tell us that they actually spent a lot of time doing something that would be unpopular. There is NO upside for the DA or the judge to let a killer be remanded to a mental hospital. The easier thing to have done would have been to incarcerate her without the possibility of parole. That would be the "common sense" solution. They even had a confession. 'just like Joy Behar asked Casey Anthony's defense team after she was acquitted of murdering her daughter "Why don't you let her babysit",' Which plays well for the galleries, but is a poor rhetorical device. The issue is not that Casey Anthony is a saint or a great baby-sitter, but that the prosecution in the case failed to do its job. All the defense attorney had to respond was "Because she has shown herself to be a uncaring and neglectful mother". Emotion is fine, it rarely solves problems that are intrinsically cerebral in nature.
Panglonymous September 02, 2011 at 11:28 PM
Re temporary insanity (thoughts in the midst of a rip-current...) Time is tweaked, everything seems to be happening automatically in a wild series of cause-and-effect. I couldn't have *willed* myself to do anything - the event seemed powerfully destined to unfold of its own. Fortunately, the outcome was benign but I deserve no conscious credit for that. Three people were involved and, thinking back, the only thing that might have saved us was that none of us had hate in our hearts. Can't prove it, but it seems right. If it had ended badly, I could not have denied responsibility. We seemed fatefully/mutually responsible. I've only experienced it once at that level. Sound familiar to anyone?
Bretta September 03, 2011 at 12:07 AM
@Julie at 4:25pm 9/1 It isn't necessarily the judges, or just about children. My experience, similar to Mark's, was the judge ordered the people out of my parents' home (vulnerable adults being used) but it still took me several months to completely get users and their possessions and a huge amount of garbage out of there. I called the sheriff, every single time the perps trespassed. The Sheriff deputies made the decision on their own, contrary to judges orders, to not ruffle the perps' feathers. Not that my story is directly to the point of the article; my point is often enforcement officials will not follow the written orders, leaving everyone frustrated.
Panglonymous September 03, 2011 at 09:42 PM
mini-pan: "uh, no sir. most of us are securely-hinged." :-)

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