PARIS — An Oxford woman has asked a court to determine parental responsibilities concerning her 2-year-old daughter, even as the clock ticks down on a ruling by Maine’s high court that could result in jail time.
Kristina Lowe has asked a magistrate in South Paris District Court to settle a dispute over custody, child support and other rights with the child’s father, Michael Murphy.
Last fall, Lowe was sentenced to 18 months in prison by an Oxford County Superior Court judge after a jury found her guilty of two counts of manslaughter and one count of leaving the scene of the accident for the deaths of two West Paris teenagers in January 2012.
She was living in West Paris at the time and returning to a party when the car she was driving went off Route 219 in West Paris into trees, killing back-seat passengers Rebecca Mason, 16, and Logan Dam, 19. Lowe was 18 years old at the time.
Sentencing was stayed pending appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. In June, justices heard oral arguments in the case, and attorneys estimated it would be late summer or early fall before a decision was made.
An active-duty Marine living in North Carolina, Murphy, in a counterclaim, has asked for sole custody arguing that Lowe could spend up to 18 months behind bars if her appeal is denied. He is expecting to move to New England sometime after Oct. 13, according to court documents.
According to the motion, Murphy has asked the magistrate for parental rights in the event Lowe is unable to parent their child.
Lowe, through defense attorney James Howaniec, who defended her in during the criminal trial, opposed the move. A mediation conference was scheduled for October.
It was unknown if the custody case would have any bearing on the stay of her sentence should the appeal be denied. Howaniec said that if the law court rejects their case, it could be transferred back to Oxford County, where they would revisit the issue.
He said Murphy and Lowe, who are not married, are no longer together. A message left with Murphy’s attorney was not returned.
“It’s routine for an unmarried parent to file for visitation rights, child support and residency of the child,” Howaniec said.
“Obviously, she has an unusual position, and we hope to have something in place in the not too distant future. Hopefully, we’ll prevail in the appeal. From our perspective, that will make things easier.”