Convicted murderer seeks visitation from 2 daughters
SUNBURY - Richard C. Curran shot and killed the mother of his two children almost nine years ago. Now the self-described "excellent father" is suing for his daughters to visit him monthly at a state prison.
Curran writes in a petition for partial custody that he "treated both children equally," that he "loves them both," and that he "never abused his children" nor were there any allegations of abuse.
"It is in the best interest of the children to maintain an ongoing relationship with the non-custodial parent on an unrestricted basis," he writes from SCI-Albion, Erie County, where he is serving a life sentence.
Citing a book on Pennsylvania family practice, he says "the child does not want to see a parent is not sufficient reason to deny the parent visitation."
Curran murdered his ex-wife Tina S. Curran Aug. 24, 2005, on a loading dock outside the formerly named Shamokin Area Community Hospital, where she worked as a nurse. At the time, he was employed part-time as the police chief of Bernville in Berks County.
Curran was declared incompetent to stand trial on four separate occasions prior to being convicted of first-degree murder on June 19, 2008. The next day, then-President Judge Robert B. Sacavage followed the wishes of the victim's family and sentenced him to life in prison. His appeals to the conviction have been rejected in state courts.
Bonnie K. Smith, of Mount Carmel, was awarded custody of her grandchildren on Sept. 16, 2005. The girls are now 16 and 12.
Curran was in police custody and could not attend the custody hearing. He claims the custody order has been circumvented.
Along with visitation rights, he seeks school pictures and report cards along with other photographs of his daughters over the past nine years. He also seeks the children's current mailing address.
The petition for partial custody is one of seven legal filings Curran made last month in Northumberland County Court. Included is a request for the return of $2,626.12 cash and other items seized by police after his apprehension at the Canadian border in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Curran's hopes were dashed by a county court order denying his request for transportation to custody proceedings, which he proposed be paid from the seized cash. He proposes, too, that the cash be used for visitation costs.
The court says telephone or video conference will suffice for custody hearings instead. Curran's request for his daughters presence at a mediation conference scheduled for today was also denied. Their presence is being considered should a custody hearing be held.
Attorney Caran Cress Mattis was appointed as the hearing officer and will also preside over today's mediation conference.
Along with the money, Curran has petitioned that police return several other items and either send it to James Nicholson in North Carolina or sell it, including a Smith and Wesson Sigma 9mm, which was not the murder weapon, ammo, handcuffs, pepper spray, an expandable baton and other law enforcement equipment found in his vehicle at the Canadian border.
He's also sued four past employers along with Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation and the Department of Revenue to turn over earnings statements from 2004 and 2005 and waive late filings.