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Arlington woman goes to court for return of children

FORT WORTH -- Whitney Walker cares for her newborn every day at her Arlington apartment.

Today, the 22-year-old mother will try to get her other three young children back, two of whom tested for amphetamine and methamphetamine in their systems a year ago.

A panel of 60 prospective jurors have been ordered to appear in a Fort Worth courtroom Monday as Walker goes to trial seeking to regain custody of her children who were taken away last year by Child Protective Services.

The trial is scheduled to take a week.

Losing her kids

On April 5, 2007, Walker left her then 8-month-old son and 19-month-old daughter for a few hours with her mother at the home they shared in Richland Hills. She was pregnant, though she says she had used methamphetamine that night. She says she didn’t take any into the house, however, and does not know how the children got the drugs.

When Walker returned home, her son was acting oddly, and she rushed him to a hospital.

Hospital lab tests found amphetamine and methamphetamine in the boy’s body. Also present were caffeine, nicotine, the cough suppressant dextromethorphan and prescription antihistamine, police said. The boy’s sister also tested positive for methamphetamine, police said.

“I knew I was dirty,” Walker has said in a previous Star-Telegram interview, referring to being tested at the hospital. “I regret all that now.”

CPS placed the children in foster care in April 2007. When her second son was born in July 2007, CPS placed him with the same family.

No indictments

Police arrested Walker’s mother, Janna Beau, in early July 2007, accusing her of knowing that the drugs were in the home and allowing her grandson to be around them. Walker surrendered to authorities in August, also accused of allowing her son to be around the drugs.

In late December, a Tarrant County grand jury declined to indict Walker and Beau on charges of endangering a child.

Authorities have said one reason for the decision was that the incident happened while an old law was in place that required prosecutors to prove how drugs got into a child’s system and that the drugs were a danger. A law that went into effect Sept. 1 does not require a prosecutor to prove how the drugs got into the child’s body, and it includes a presumption that a child who has methamphetamine in his or her body is in danger.

What’s happening now

Foster parents Carl and Laura Gorman are challenging Walker’s attempts to get her children back. In January, they filed a motion asking a judge to let them remain an option for the children’s custody.

Walker has been under the watchful eyes of CPS as she awaits the hearing. Her attorney says that Walker has been clean for 18 months.

She works at a department store, owns a car and lives in an apartment that she is fixing up for her children if she gets them back.

Walker had her fourth child this summer, and CPS has notified her that it will not take that child away. The father of all of her children is in prison, and Walker said she doesn’t plan to allow him back in her life.

A gradual process

If she regains custody of her children, it would be a gradual process with CPS, friends and relatives helping, Walker’s attorney, Mike Schneider of Arlington, has said.