By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
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She said she smoked pot, but so did Gregory -- she claims they smoked together on Valentine's Day, birthdays and special occasions. Deborah said she believes Carolee's diary is fiction her daughter concocted knowing Gregory searched her room. "I know she loaded the diary up so he'd have something to read," Deborah said.
Batton's office mate, attorney Steve Leatherman, asked Deborah if she and her husband had ever had a conversation in which Gregory asked whether a friend of hers did crack and she responded, "We don't even use it, much." Deborah testified that she never said that and she has never done crack in her life. In a motion to impeach her testimony, Gregory's attorney played a tape of the conversation where Deborah said, "I don't even know anybody who does that. We don't even do that -- too much."
After everyone left the courtroom for a brief recess, Shepherd asked Deborah, "Do you see now why I told you not to talk to him? It's all coming back."
After the break, Hallie's attorney asked Deborah, did she want Hallie to become "the same type of young lady that Carolee is?"
"Yes," Deborah said. "Carolee is a good girl."
Jonte asked if Deborah wanted Hallie to be smoking marijuana and having sex by the time she's 17. And if not, how did Deborah plan to stop it?
"Do you think you set an appropriate example for both your daughters?" Jonte asked.
"I try," Deborah said softly.
She said Gregory is a good father and that Hallie loves her daddy very much. She said she thought standard weekend-with-dad visitation rights were unfair because Gregory works weekends. She said Gregory should be with Hallie whenever he's not working. "He just has to talk to me," she said. "He won't talk to me."
The hearing was postponed once again because Deborah didn't obey two court orders to get tested for drugs. When she finally went to the clinic, her hair was tested only for marijuana in the last three months, rather than for the full spectrum of drugs in the entire length of hair.
The judge handwrote another order and stepped down. When her lawyer's back was turned, Deborah walked over to Gregory and started whispering. Her attorney noticed and angrily beckoned her.
"Why are you talking to him?" Shepherd asked. "Don't talk to him. For God's sake -- he uses everything against you."
An hour into the final hearing, on Tuesday, September 11, America was attacked. Terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center and then the Pentagon. As Houston began evacuating out of fear that oil and energy companies were next, the judge was given notice that the family law center might close. "All I wanted was my baby," Gregory said. "I didn't care what blew up." Instead of postponing the hearing again, the lawyers cut witnesses and expedited the proceedings.
Jonte told the court she had concerns about Hallie living with Gregory, but she had more concerns about Deborah. Gregory was awarded primary custody, with Deborah having alternate weekend visits and two hours every Wednesday evening. Deborah was ordered to pay child support, take parenting classes, get counseling and have random drug tests. An injunction also was issued to keep Carolee from being alone with Hallie. "These are just temporary orders," Batton said. "There's a lot more work to be done before any other final resolution is reached."
Deborah said she lost custody of Hallie because she decided to back off. "I didn't want them to put the baby in foster care," she said.
She described the shooting as "a little teenage problem" and said she still doesn't understand why Gregory kicked her out. She kept trying to go home, but he wouldn't let her in. She said he told her she could come back, but she had to choose between him and Carolee. When she chose her daughter, she said, he decided to tell the world that she's a horrible person. She insists that she's a good mother. "My husband has lost his mind or something," she said. "He's an idiot. He's never been married before and he doesn't know anything about life, and his mother is equally retarded as he is. I don't know what to say about them people."
She insists that Gregory was acting entirely under Ethylene's orders. "His mom decided to move in and be his new wife," Deborah said. She can't remember why she married Gregory in the first place or why she stayed with him. All she can say is that he's a cheap psycho dork who blows things out of proportion. "When something small happens, like, 'Hey, it's time to get a divorce,' he makes a big deal like O.J. Simpson has done something," she said. "Nothing has happened other than two people can't get along and we're getting a divorce."
To make it easier, she stopped fighting. She still wants her baby, but she loves her too much to hand her over to strangers.
"It's hard not being with Hallie," she said. "But I had to back off Though he's kinda retarded, he's a good daddy. He's a terrible stepdad, he's an idiot husband, but he does love that baby. And I know when the baby's with him, I know the baby's okay."