A 14-year-old boy on Tuesday won the right to go to trial in his two-year battle to end his biological father’s parental rights after the man beat and shot to death the child’s mother in their home six years ago.
A Massachusetts judge, who in February threw the case out, reversed his ruling and ordered a trial on July 26 and 27 to decide the fate of Patrick Holland, who was just 8 when he found his mother dead.
Legal experts and social services officials said the case drew national attention because it was rare for a child to ask personally for termination of a parent’s rights.
Traditionally, a child welfare agency makes the case on a child’s behalf. The Massachusetts Department of Social Services filed a request on Patrick Holland’s behalf shortly after the murder, but a judge ruled the request was premature.
The boy was not in Norfolk County family court in Canton, Mass., 21 miles south of Boston, because counselors feared his father, Daniel Holland, might be brought to the hearing. The father is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for murdering Elizabeth Holland in October 1998.
Patrick was elated when his guardian called him with the news of Tuesday’s ruling by Judge Robert Langlois.
“Patrick said, ‘That’s awesome,”’ guardian Ron Lazisky said.
In a telephone interview from his home in Sandown, N.H., Patrick said he began his campaign shortly after his imprisoned father demanded to see report cards and hear about his progress in sports and psychological counseling.
“I want to say to the world that he is not my father,” Patrick Holland said. He lives with Ron and Rita Lazisky, his mother’s best friend.
A lawyer for Daniel Holland did not return calls seeking comment.
Boy discovered body
In 1998, Patrick discovered his mother’s bullet-riddled body clutching a pillow for protection from her estranged husband. Daniel Holland threw a golf bag through a window, kicked down a door in Elizabeth Holland’s Massachusetts home and shot her and smashed her face so forcefully the gun’s wooden handle splintered.
Since the boy had moved to New Hampshire to live with the Laziskys, Massachusetts child welfare officials were no longer involved in the case. But in February, when the Massachusetts judge dismissed the case, the state’s top social services official became involved.
“Patrick is a one-man band. He has thought this through very carefully, and the commissioner is adamant that he gets his will to terminate his biological father’s rights,” said Denise Monteiro, a spokeswoman for the Department of Social Services.
The department will handle Patrick’s appeal at the trial.