Judge: Texas Girl to Stay in State Custody

By LYNN BREZOSKY, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 7 minutes ago

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - A judge ruled Thursday that the state will retain custody of a 13-year-old girl who was taken from her parents after they refused to continue her cancer treatments and the cancer, which appeared to have been eliminated, returned.

Katie Wernecke, who has Hodgkin's disease, will remain with Child Protective Services pending another hearing late next month, juvenile court Judge
Carl Lewis ruled. Katie was scheduled to see doctors at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston on Thursday...

The girl was diagnosed in January after she was taken to an emergency room with what her parents thought was pneumonia. She received chemotherapy, and doctors recommended it be followed with radiation.

Her parents refused though. Edward Wernecke said he feared the radiation would put Katie at a heightened risk for breast cancer, stunt her growth and cause learning problems.

Earlier this month, Child Protective Services officials took custody of Katie after doctors said the Werneckes were risking their daughter's life by refusing the radiation therapy. A scan last week revealed the cancer had returned, and Katie's former doctor testified he thought its return was linked to the family's refusal to go forward with the radiation.

Attorneys for the Werneckes said it was never the family's intention to deny necessary medical treatment. Michele Wernecke testified she was willing to follow doctors' recommendations, and her husband testified that Katie needed to be with her family.

The case has drawn national attention as a battle between parental rights and the state's charge to protect children from abuse or neglect...

Edward Wernecke had said the dispute was simply a misunderstanding. He said Dr. Nejemie Alter, who diagnosed Katie's illness and testified at the hearing, had led him to believe four rounds of chemotherapy were enough.

"After we finished with the four chemos, we thought that's all there was," he said.

Judge: Texas Girl to Stay in State Custody