Amanda Ware in court seeking custody of children

Amanda Ware in court seeking custody of children

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Amanda Ware and her husband, Leo, talk about the legal case against them.

CHICAGO -- The battle of a former Clinton woman to regain custody of her three children could produce a replay of her 2006 murder trial in the deaths of her three other children, but this one could take place in a Chicago courtroom.

Amanda Ware, known as Amanda Hamm before her marriage to Leo Ware, was convicted of child endangerment and acquitted of murder in the 2003 drownings death of her three children in Clinton Lake. Her former boyfriend Maurice LaGrone was convicted of murder and is serving a life sentence in the deaths.

The Wares' three children born since her release from prison, two girls ages 4 and 3 and a boy who is 14 months, were removed from their home in early March 2014. The state Department of Children and Family Services took custody of the children after a doctor at a Chicago hospital recognized Ware as Amanda Hamm shortly after she gave birth to her son.

The children have been living in the city with a relative of Leo Ware.

On Thursday, the Wares and lawyers appointed for each of them, reported to a courtroom in the Cook County Juvenile Center for what was scheduled as a two-day hearing on whether the parents should have unsupervised visits with their children.

The lawyers and a group of child welfare workers who came prepared to testify at the hearing, never made it in front of Associate Judge Demetrios G. Kottaras.

Instead, the lawyers for the Wares and the state spent about three hours shuttling between conference rooms negotiating their next moves in the case. The Wares met separately with their attorneys.

According to Leo Ware, the state indicated that it may call witnesses who testified at his wife's 2006 trial held in Macon County after it was moved from DeWitt County.

"They want to bring up the whole 2003 case, including having the police testify," Leo Ware said.

If that occurs, Ware said the judge should also hear the defense evidence that swayed the jury to acquit his wife of murder.

"If they're going to paint a picture, they need to paint the entire picture," he said.

Lawyers are scheduled to be back in court Friday to set a date for a trial later this summer on the custody issues. Testimony and evidence from Ware's 2006 trial could be presented by both sides.

Amanda Ware's child endangerment conviction resulted in her inclusion for 50 years on a list of known child abusers. The state maintains that she was notified of that designation but she denies ever receiving such paperwork.

A state parole officer who monitored Ware after her release from Dwight Correctional Center was aware that she was pregnant and found her to be in compliance with parole rules during visits after her first child was born, according to the Department of Corrections.

The lengthy legal process is an unwelcome but familiar experience for Amanda Ware.

"I never dreamed in my life that I'd be back in court again," she said.

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