HOUSTON - Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes were sentenced to federal prison Wednesday for kidnapping their 3-year-old grandson and taking him to Brazil nearly two years ago.
A federal jury found Carlos Guimaraes, 67, and his wife, Jemima, 66, guilty of international parental kidnapping in May.
Carlos was sentenced to three months in federal prison and Jemima was sentenced to one month.
The child remains in Brazil, according to the FBI.
The jury deliberated for more than two days following a 10-day trial.
“International parental kidnapping is a terrible crime,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. “This jury of 12 heard heart-wrenching evidence of a father who just wants to see his little boy. I applaud today’s verdict and want everyone to know that our office will not rest until the mother is back on U.S. soil to face her own kidnapping charges.”
Dr. Chris Brann said his ex-wife, Marcelle Guimaraes, and her parents took his son, Nico, to his ex-wife’s home country to attend a family event in 2013, but the boy never returned.
The boy’s grandparents were arrested in Miami earlier this year and charged with conspiracy and international parental kidnapping.
Brann said the jury was split on the charges, only convicting the couple of kidnapping.
“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 rights,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner said.
Marcelle Guimaraes, 40, is also facing charges, but has not been arrested.
Nico, the child at the center of the case, remains in Brazil with his mother. He’s been there since 2013.
“This sentence, for me, will not change my resolve. It won't change my attempts to get my son back and I'm going to continue to fight for him,” Dr. Chris Brann said.
KPRC talked to Marcelle Guimaraes late Wednesday afternoon via Skype. She said she is crushed that her parents will have to spend a single day in jail and claims they were only trying to protect her from her ex-husband.
“Everything that happened to me it was because I had no other choice ... I had to protect my son, I had to protect myself against a man that’s very dangerous. He punched me, he hurt me, he threw me against the wall. I couldn’t hear for a whole month, on one side. He did all of this in front of his own son,” Marcelle Guimaraes said.
Brann’s attorney said Marcelle Guimaraes' claims of abuse have no merit and questions if she was so scared of her ex-husband, why didn’t she leave sooner.
The Guimaraes’ attorney said the grandparents offered financial support to their daughter but they had no influence over their daughter’s decision to keep Nico from seeing his father.
“They have asked their daughter in the past to reach some kind of agreement but they have no control over it,” attorney Rusty Hardin said.
As part of their sentence, the Guimaraes’ each must pay a $75,000 fine.
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