SPLIT VERDICT: Jury finds grandparents NOT GUILTY on Conspiracy charge, GUILTY on International Kidnapping charge in Brazilian international kidnapping case. More to come. #abc13 pic.twitter.com/5vRP21BgtE— Miya Shay (@ABC13Miya) May 25, 2018
Carlos Otavio Guimaraes and Jemima Guimaraes were found guilty of international kidnapping and not guilty of conspiracy.
In light of the conviction, a federal judge ordered the couple to remain in home confinement until their sentencing. Surrounded by family and friends, the Guimaraes' walked out of court without saying a word.
"I think my team and I are crushed," said Rusty Hardin, the lead defense attorney representing the grandparents. "We're tremendously surprised and disappointed."
Hardin and his team spent days hammering away at the prosecution's star witness, Nico's dad, Dr. Christopher Brann.
They alleged that Brann assaulted his wife during their marriage. Fearing more domestic violence, she fled to Brazil with their son. The grandparents' attorneys maintained throughout the trial that they were just supporting their daughter.
"The fact is, these people were supporting their daughter, evidence doesn't contradict that she was the victim of domestic violence and that's the defense," said Hardin.
Houston Dr. Chris Brann, the child's father, says the kidnapping happened in 2013 and that he's been fighting to get his son back since.
Witnesses testified for eight days about the grandparents helping their daughter, Marcelle Guimaraes, secure a job abroad and enroll her son Nico in a Brazilian school as part of a plan to relocate the boy permanently to Brazil.
Brann married Marcelle Guimaraes in 2008. Their son Nicolas was born a year later.
Brann's family was in court, though he was not as the verdict was handed down. In a statement, Brann said, "I never wanted it to come to this and the only thing I want is for my son to come home. I hope they will take responsibility for their actions and do everything they can to have him come home as soon as possible," Brann said.
In its own statement, the Houston-area FBI said that Friday's verdict does not end the case.
"Today's verdict by no means concludes the FBI's efforts to reunite the child with his father. The FBI is committed to investigating those who remove or attempt to remove a child from the United States, or retain a child outside the United States, with the intent to obstruct another parent's custodial right."
In 2012, Marcelle filed for divorce. The couple then shared custody of Nicolas for several months.
In 2013, Brann claimed that his ex-wife used a family wedding as a reason to let their son Nicolas travel to Brazil. Nicolas was three years old at the time.
According to a criminal complaint, Marcelle was supposed to take Nicolas to Brazil July 2 and return to Houston no later than July 20, 2013. When Marcelle never returned, Brann filed criminal charges against his ex-wife and her parents.
The Guimaraes were arrested this spring when they returned to the U.S. to attend another grandchild's birthday party. Marcelle and Nico have always remained in Brazil, and out of reach of U.S. prosecutors.
Grandparents released on $1M bond each in international kidnap case