Teenager 'divorces' father who murdered his mother

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The Independent US

A boy from Massachusetts has succeeded in his battle to "divorce" his own father, who is in prison serving a life sentence for murdering his wife.

A boy from Massachusetts has succeeded in his battle to "divorce" his own father, who is in prison serving a life sentence for murdering his wife.

The case is considered unique in America because the boy, Patrick Holland, 14, initiated the proceeding himself against his father, Daniel Holland. Previous cases of minors trying to sever legal ties with their parents in the United States have always been initiated by their adoptive parents or legal guardians.

In interviews, Patrick has spelt out his determination to cut his father out of his life for ever. "He's not my father," he said recently.

And in a reference to the murder of his mother, Liz Holland, he added: "If he wanted to have a relationship with me, he should have thought of that before he killed her."

Patrick's parents had been estranged and were in the process of getting divorced when his mother was killed in 1998. Holland broke into her home in Quincy, Massachusetts, by breaking a window and shot her eight times. He then smashed her face with a rifle butt while Patrick, who was just eight years old, was asleep in his room.

The boy has since recalled going into the bedroom the following morning and finding his mother's body, before running out of the house to get help from neighbours.

After a settlement with his maternal grandparents, it was agreed that the best friends of Patrick's mother, Rita and Ron Lazisky, would take him in as his legal guardians. They agreed not to attempt to adopt him until he reached 15 and was old enough to have a say in his future.

The battle between son and convicted father had been due to be played out in closed court in Massachusetts over two days beginning yesterday. However, Holland agreed to a legal settlement at the last moment to end his attempts to intervene in his son's life.

Patrick expressed his relief last night. "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," he said.

Ron Lazisky, meanwhile, said he and his wife, with the boy's consent, were ready to file adoption papers at once.

The last-minute settlement was negotiated with Holland participating via video link from prison. When his lawyer said that Holland wished to use the moment to tell his son that he loved him, Patrick got up and walked out.

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