Daniel Hauser back in Minnesota; court hearing todayby Sea Stachura, Minnesota Public Radio
A court hearing is set for 2:15 p.m. today in New Ulm to determine the next steps in the case of Daniel Hauser. The 13-year-old boy returned to Minnesota with his mother yesterday after a week on the run to avoid court-ordered cancer treatments.
New Ulm, Minn. — Daniel and Colleen Hauser arrived back in Minnesota in dramatic fashion, at 3 a.m. Monday on a chartered flight from Chino, California. Their voluntary return was brokered by a prominent criminal defense attorney.
Daniel was taken to a Minneapolis hospital to have his Hodgkins lymphoma evaluated. Jennifer Keller, the attorney who arranged the return, said Daniel is fine.
"He did have a very liquidy cough, which is characteristic of Hodgkin's. but he seemed fine," Keller said. "He seemed like he had adequate nutrition. They were definitely keeping him hydrated. He was alert. He wasn't in any pain, he didn't seem to be in any acute distress."
Keller and law enforcement said no charges are being filed against Colleen Hauser. The felony arrest warrant has been dropped.
But where were the Hausers this week?
"I really don't know the ins and outs of who she was with or where they were," Keller said. "I didn't ask. It wasn't part of what I needed to know. I just wanted to move very quickly to get him back."
Brown County Sheriff Rich Hoffmann wouldn't comment on the Hausers whereabouts either. But he did list a slew of law enforcement agencies that helped in the investigation.
"The FBI San Diego division," he said. "The FBI Los Angeles Division. Local law enforcement. US Customs and Border Protection. Interpol. Baja California Preventative Police..."
It's unclear what's next for Daniel. He had one round of chemotherapy back in February. But the Hausers argued in court the treatment violated their religious beliefs, and they preferred to rely on alternative treatments inspired by Native American practices.
Two weeks ago a judge ruled against the Hausers, saying Daniel would have to undergo chemotherapy if an evaluation showed his disease was still treatable. It was after that evaluation that Daniel and his mother fled.
California attorney Keller said she got involved when another lawyer, Karen Pezzutto, asked her to help the family. Pezzutto is a lawyer, World Series poker player, and also owns Asgaard Media and Reel Magic Productions with her husband.
Asgaard Media paid for Danny and Colleen Hauser to fly back to Minnesota. They also produced a short film of the two leaving California. The Pezzutos couldn't be reached for comment, but Keller said it's her understanding they met through people in the alternative medicine community.
Keller said Colleen Hauser did not believe she was fleeing police when she flew to Los Angeles.
"She was just thinking she was leaving to go explore these alternative therapies, and I think this California lawyer talked her into that and supplied her with plane tickets," Keller said. "The Hausers don't have any resources. They wouldn't have been able to buy two plane tickets."
That California lawyer is Susan Daya Hamwi, a juvenile court lawyer from Los Angeles who came to the Hausers' court proceeding several weeks ago.
Hamwi also went with Daniel and Colleen to his last doctor's visit shortly before the pair disappeared. Hamwi said she didn't pay for the Hausers' plane tickets, but she did put the tickets on her credit card.
"I put it on my credit card and she paid," Hamwi said. "She wrote me a check for her tickets. I did not pay for her tickets. I have the check."
Hamwi said she did not advise the pair to leave the state. She said that was Colleen Hauser's decision, and she won't say where the Hausers were.
"All I can tell you right now is that I was on a plane with them to California," Hamwi said. "I don't deny that. That is the truth."
Colleen Hauser has returned to the family's farm in Sleepy Eye.
- Morning Edition, 05/26/2009, 7:20 a.m.