DULUTH – The Minnesota Court of Appeals has sided with a Duluth man convicted of murdering his wife in a case regarding the custody of their three children.
"We conclude that the district court abused its discretion in awarding permanent custody to maternal grandparents over father's objection, and without an evidentiary hearing, thus, we reverse," read the order released Monday.
The children, who witnessed their mother's murder last year, will remain with their mother's parents pending further hearings.
Ryan Jazdzewski stabbed his wife Nicole Jazdzewski to death at their Chester Park home in June after she asked for a divorce, records show. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in January and was sentenced to more than 36 years in prison in March.
St. Louis County District Judge Theresa Neo moved quickly to award full custody to Nicole Jazdzewski's parents after the incident. Their father "preferred custody going to his sister and brother-in-law," according to court documents.
"You might say I can't do this, but I'm going to do it," Neo said. "These children need stability and they need to be assured that they know where they're going to be. They do not need to be in the middle of a custody fight."
The appeals court decision, written by Judge Diane Bratvold, focused almost solely on the hearing requirement.
"The district court determined that it 'is compelled' to grant permanent custody 'based on the exceptional circumstances of this case,' " she wrote. "But 'extraordinary circumstances' are not an exception to the evidentiary-hearing requirement."