Bryan – just days old.
After surviving the worst loss that any parent can imagine – the murder of one of my 11-week-old twin boys, I thought that losing my son and going through the criminal justice system would be the worst part of my journey since my son Bryan died on June 12, 2011. It turns out that after the horror of losing my child at the hands of my now ex-husband, and reliving every horrific detail during the criminal trial, this was just the beginning.
In September 2012, my ex-husband Kaliq Mansor was convicted of 10 counts, including murder by abuse. He was also convicted of abusing my surviving son Ethan, who had six rib fractures. This was only discovered by doctors as his brother Bryan lay dying in the hospital from a traumatic brain injury.
There are no outward signs of rib fractures in young infants because their ribs are so pliable. So while the boys were seeing doctors and other medical professionals on a regular basis, no one but Mr. Mansor knew that the boys were being abused. The kind, mellow façade that Mr. Mansor had created never betrayed the rage that he felt inside until it was too late.
Because I was married to Mr. Mansor, I have had to deal with all of the mundane and often painful details that accompany a typical divorce. But this divorce has been anything but typical. In late June 2011, shortly after learning of Mr. Mansor’s guilt, I filed for divorce.
Almost two years later, this process is still not done. I wrongfully assumed that because of what Mr. Mansor had done, that the divorce process would be fairly quick and straight-forward. It has been anything but that and is still not resolved to this day.
Every single step of the way, Mr. Mansor and his family have fought me in family law court. They have made terrible accusations against me as a parent, tried to keep me from getting any financial support and have even gone as far as trying to force me to pay for Bryan’s medical bills – the son that Mr. Mansor murdered.
As an example, a seemingly small detail – transferring Mr. Mansor’s personal property to his family, became a battle of epic proportions. I didn’t want Mr. Mansor’s belongings and tried for more than a year to work with his friends, family and attorney to get them to take over a storage unit that contained his things.
Mr. Mansor’s brother, Kadeen Mansor, made multiple demands, threats, and even created his own so-called “legally-binding” letter that he sent to the storage unit facility that was directed at me. Every time it seemed someone on Mr. Mansor’s side was finally ready to take over responsibility of the storage unit, they would throw up yet another road block.
I kept asking my attorney why after everything Mr. Mansor and his family had done that I had to keep paying for a storage unit that contained his belongings. The response I continually received was that I would be sued by his family if I let my payments lapse.
Mr. Mansor killed my son and hurt everyone who knew him, but yet somehow I was responsible for paying to keep a killer’s belongings. I was, and continue to be dumb-founded by this. It took more than a year before Mr. Mansor’s brother would finally come and take an inventory of the unit and take over legal responsibility. This fight alone cost me more than $2500 in attorney fees and the storage unit itself cost me more than $1000.
Before the criminal trial started, we had multiple hearings in family law court. Each time, I had to be in the same room with the man who murdered my child. And more than once, I had to get on the stand and defend the expenses I had and explain in detail the income that I made and why I needed financial support for my surviving son from Mr. Mansor. While Mr. Mansor was required by law to provide all of his financial information as well, all we ever got was a two-page screen capture.
The dissolution of our marriage was finalized in March 2012 – a year after my sons were born. The judge who presided over the criminal trial and the family law trial wanted to defer financial and custody issues until after the criminal trial. He stated he didn’t’ want Mr. Mansor using his funds to defend himself if those funds could be given to my son if he were to be convicted. So we had to wait for another hearing on Dec. 6 after the criminal trial to settle the domestic matters.
After Mr. Mansor was sentenced to life in prison in October 2012, my attorney wrote up what is called a Supplemental Judgment to deal with the remaining two issues: money and custody. I figured after Mr. Mansor’s conviction and sentence, the remaining portion of the family law process would be straight-forward – that I would receive all of the funds that Mr. Mansor had in a 401K account and that I would receive full custody of my son. Again, given what he had done and what he was convicted of, I thought this would be a quick process.
Instead, days after my attorney sent the proposed Supplemental Judgment to Mr. Mansor’s attorney, Mr. Thurl Stalnaker, more issues arose. Since he was arrested, Mr. Mansor has not shown any interest in my surviving son, but all of the sudden there was a huge push on Mr. Stalnaker’s part to have my son brought to the prison to see his father.
Mr. Stalnaker contended that this was in my son’s best interest to visit the man who had murdered his brother and hurt him. In the state of Oregon, if someone is a named victim of a crime, they are not allowed to visit their perpetrator. Mr. Mansor and Mr. Stalnaker were well aware of this fact, but continued to argue this point for six weeks – literally up until the day before our Dec. 6 hearing.
When my attorney explained to Mr. Stalnaker multiple times that as he was aware, the ruling in the criminal judgment made it legally impossible for my son to visit his father in prison, the response we got from Mr. Stalnaker was that he had not seen the criminal ruling so he didn’t know how to address future contact between his client and my son.
As with the storage unit issue, when I asked my attorney why we had to continually respond to such ludicrous requests, her response was that we had to show the judge we had negotiated in good faith with Mr. Stalnaker. And once again, this cost me thousands of dollars that I did not have.
To make matters even worse, Mr. Mansor’s parents also decided that they wanted visitation rights with my son. Like their son, they have shown no interest in contacting my son, getting pictures of him, sending him cards, etc. As Mr. Stalnaker stated, he knew there were no grandparent rights in the state of Oregon, but he didn’t think it was fair for me to keep my son from them.
They have never tried to establish a bond with my son, and harbor profound anger towards me, so I didn’t feel it was in my son’s best interest for them to see him. As with the prison visitation issue, my attorney had to repeatedly respond to these requests, despite the fact that Mr. Stalnaker knew the law was not in the Mansor family’s favor.
On Dec. 5 2012, the night before the last family law hearing, Mr. Stalnaker dropped all mention of visitation from the briefing that he filed with the court. On the day of the hearing, I had to get on the stand once again and testify about my expenses and income. Mr. Stalnaker was allowed to attack every detail of my finances, of which I had to provide a year’s worth of statements for every account I had. Mr. Mansor was required to provide the same information but all the court ever received was a two-page screen print provided by Mr. Mansor’s brother, Kadeen.
At the end of the hearing, the judge ruled that all monies in the 401K account would be transferred to me, that I would have sole custody of my son and there would be no visitation rights for Mr. Mansor or his family. A signed copy of the judgment was due Jan. 10, 2013.
On Jan. 9 at 4:45 p.m. Mr. Stalnaker delivered a signed copy of the Supplemental Judgment to my attorney. Doing so virtually ensured there would be no way that the judgment could be filed on time. This created additional motions that had to be dismissed, signed, re-instated, re-signed and ultimately approved by the judge. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Stalnaker filed so late knowing full well the issues it would cause. Not only did he create more pain and frustration for me, he wasted tax payer dollars by forcing the judge and his staff to create a mountain of additional documents that were completely unnecessary.
The Supplemental Judgment was finally signed in late January 2013, at which point the 401K portion was sent on to another lawyer for processing. I had to pay Mr. Dan Ricks $750 to handle what is called a QDRO, which deals with the transfer of 401K funds from one party to another.
Mr. Ricks took about a month to get the document completed. During this month, I repeatedly called and emailed, asking for more information about how the process worked. Not one of my phone calls was returned, nor did Mr. Ricks ever honor any of my requests to be kept apprised of where things stood.
Instead of sending the completed document to me for review, as I requested, Mr. Ricks sent it directly to Mr. Stalnaker. Not only was the document not correct, but it contained my personal address. One that Mr. Stalnaker will no doubt pass on to Mr. Mansor’s family. When I voiced my concern to Mr. Ricks, he responded with a one sentence response: “it is required by federal law.” This attorney is supposed to have my best interest at heart, and instead it became clear to me that he was not interested in my family’s safety or well-being.
And to make matters worse, when Mr. Stalnaker finally receives the correct QDRO document to sign, there is no timeframe in which he must sign it. Thus far he has dragged out every single process in the divorce for as long as possible, and I have no doubt he will do the same in this case. I have no idea when the QDRO will be signed and completed. While the money will help me raise my son, the more important point is that I just want to be done – with the lawyers, with the murderer of my son and his family.
What I have learned from all of this is that even after suffering through the most horrific events of my life, I have no recourse when it comes to family law in the United States court system. I have tried time and again to get closure and have yet to receive it. In a month, I will celebrate the second birthday of my surviving son and mourn the loss of my other son who only lived a mere 11 weeks.
In my opinion, the American justice system protects the rights of the accused at all costs – often at the repeated expense of victims. While everyone deserves a fair trial, should it be at the expense of the people who have suffered the loss of a loved one? I believe our priorities in the Oregon justice system are skewed in favor of the criminals.
As many in the law community say, Oregon is a “hug a thug” state that favors the “poor” criminals instead of the victims’ lives they have taken and the survivors who have been left behind. With the current movement afoot by Governor Kitzhaber and the state legislature to overturn Measure 11, which requires mandatory sentencing for violent offenders, where does this leave the victims? As far as I can see, it leaves us completely without a voice.
I would like to believe that there’s something I can do to make a difference in how victims are treated in the future. Believe me, I have tried to implement changes, at every level thinkable in Oregon, but to no avail. As I’ve found after almost two years in this system, there is little any of us can do – except hope that we never, ever end up being a part of it.
Angie Foster is a Portland singer, songwriter and composer. Her first album, “Never Forget,” grew out of the song of the same name that she wrote about the 9/11 attacks. “Can I Wish It for You” on that CD was featured in the independent film “Making Maya.” “The East West Café” is the signature song on her second album, “Hurry Up and Wait.” A blues number on that CD, “Why Do I Love That Man?,” was a finalist in the international 100% Music Songwriting Contest. Another blues song on the album, “Make It Alright,” was featured on a popular blues podcast that airs in the United States and Europe. Email Angie, if you want to buy the CD or go to cdbaby.com.