A Massachusetts man who murdered his wife six years ago and left their 8-year-old son to find her body has agreed to give up his parental rights, the boy's guardian said Monday.
Daniel Holland had been scheduled to face a closed-door trial Monday in Norfolk County Probate and Family Court on whether his parental rights should be terminated at his son’s request.
Instead, he agreed to a settlement waiving any right to be part of Patrick Holland's life, said Ron Lazisky, of Sandown, N.H., Patrick's permanent legal guardian.
Patrick, 14, has publicized his determination to terminate his father's parental rights, saying Holland forfeited the role of a parent the night he shot Liz Holland eight times in their Quincy, Mass., home. Patrick was sleeping in the next room.
‘A big weight's been lifted’
"It's like a big weight's been lifted off my shoulders, knowing that I don't have to worry about him being in my life," Patrick said in a brief courthouse interview Monday morning.
Holland is serving life in prison without parole for first-degree murder. He is appealing.
Lazisky said he and his wife, Rita, who was Liz Holland's best friend, would file immediately to adopt Patrick.
After Liz Holland's death, the Laziskys and grandparents on both sides sought custody of Patrick.
The Laziskys eventually got custody in a settlement with Daniel Holland's parents, but they agreed not to try to adopt Patrick until 2005, when Patrick would be old enough to have a major say.
Because there was no adoption, Holland's parental rights were never terminated.
Father tried to get son's records
That was fine with Patrick and the Laziskys until Holland began trying to get Patrick's school and counseling records. They responded by suing to try to terminate his parental rights.
Judge Robert Langlois threw the case out in February because the Laziskys and Patrick live in New Hampshire and Patrick is a minor.
The judge reinstated the case two months later after the Massachusetts Department of Social Services intervened on Patrick's behalf.
Daniel Holland also has been trying to intervene in his slain wife's estate, claiming he was doing so on their only child’s behalf.
Holland is also facing a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Robert McCrocklin, Patrick’s maternal grandfather and the administrator of his mother’s estate. McCrocklin is asking for more than $100,000.
Patrick wasn’t notified by either his father or his grandfather about their lawsuits. The teenager found out from a reporter.
Father, grandfather have lawsuits pending
Through lawyers, both Holland and McCrocklin said they were acting in Patrick’s interest.
“The reason Dan intervened is because no one involved seems to be paying attention,” lawyer Mark Gillis said. “If someone involved in the estate decides to pursue it, then there would be no need for Daniel Holland to intervene. Mr. Holland has nothing to gain by doing this, other than trying to protect his son.”
In court papers, Holland said a property list filed by McCrocklin “omits and undervalues numerous items” from the Holland home, including a baseball signed by Ted Williams.
Holland has asked the court to order a complete inventory of the jewelry, antiques, cars, sports equipment and other belongings at the house the night he killed his estranged wife.
Termination of Holland’s parental rights does not necessarily prevent him from intervening in the estate, Gillis said. The hearing on his motion to intervene is set for Tuesday.
Wrongful death lawsuit pursued
The wrongful death lawsuit should ultimately benefit Patrick, said Steven Wollman, who represents both McCrocklin and the estate. But it could be on hold for years while Holland exhausts his murder appeals, because if Holland’s conviction is overturned, he could become a beneficiary of the estate.
As part of the lawsuit, the estate has attached Holland’s share of the family home in Quincy, sold for $162,000 in 1999, and a retirement or pension fund held by his former employer, Bell Atlantic (now Verizon).
The family’s belongings are the balance of the estate. The brief inventory filed by McCrocklin includes some furniture, kitchen appliances, pots and pans, a stereo system and two televisions. He estimated the total value at about $1,100.
Eventually, the estate will file a detailed final inventory, Wollman said. But in the meantime, unnecessary legal work simply will chew up its assets, meaning Patrick will get less money.