- A judge who has things right
Posted on Sat, Aug. 30, 2003
Maning sentenced for hiding woman's daughters
By Claire Booth
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
MARTINEZ - Florencio Maning Jr., the man convicted of helping a mother
hide her two children from their father after she abducted them, was
sentenced Friday to nine years and four months in prison.
Maning led a San Jose child-custody advocacy group that assisted Kelli
Nunez with legal paperwork before she took her girls, then 4 and 6, from
Lafayette day care center April 26, 2002, in violation of a court
Nunez left them with the advocacy group for six months before members
turned the children over to authorities.
After a trial in June, jurors found that Maning helped move the children
among the members and controlled their whereabouts.
He was convicted of two counts each of child abduction and child custody
deprivation and one count of conspiracy to commit contempt of court.
Because Maning had a prior felony conviction that counted as a strike
the state's three-strikes law, the sentences for his current convictions
could be doubled.
Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Mary Ann O'Malley chose to do so,
saying that Maning caused the Nunez girls "great emotional injury."
"I can't imagine what the two little girls had to go through," she said.
The girls were in the legal custody of their father, Danny Nunez, when
Nunez took them from their day care center. The two adults had divorced
1999 and began a bitter custody dispute over the girls.
Kelli Nunez turned the children over to Maning's advocacy group. She
refused to divulge their whereabouts to a family law judge. She was
cited for contempt of court and sent to jail, where she sat for the six
months the girls remained with the group.
In November 2002, group members learned that Maning was a convicted
Members turned over the children to authorities. The girls, who were not
physically hurt during their abduction, now live with their father.
"I wish we never had to be here in the first place," Danny Nunez said
after the sentencing. During the hearing, he made an emotional plea for
O'Malley to sentence Maning to the maximum prison term allowed.
She came close. The maximum Maning could have received was 11 years and
four months, said deputy district attorney Kirk Andrus.
Both Maning and Kelli Nunez, who also was convicted in the case,
maintained that they thought the girls were abused while in their
Maning reiterated that Friday.
"I did know where the kids were -- not all the time," he said. "I would
not turn them in because I firmly believed they were abused."
Before his sentencing, Maning asked O'Malley if he could act as his own
attorney for the sentencing and have time to prepare additional legal
filings. O'Malley ruled that he should have made the request in advance
of the sentencing and declined to delay the proceeding.
Claire Booth covers courts. Reach her at 925-228-6177 or
I have met Judge O'Malley personally, and found her to be a fair and
dedicated jurist. She was just recently elevated to the Family Court
Bench in this county, and I have high hopes for her.
Robert A. Fink, M. D., President
California Parents United, Inc.
24 Oak Creek Road
El Sobrante, California 94803-3506
Dedicated to Joint and Equal Parenting