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No decision in custody hearing for Sievers kids

Posted at 1:33 PM, May 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-12 14:53:14-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A new development in a fierce custody battle amid one of Southwest Florida's most infamous murder cases. The Department of Children and Families are trying to find a permanent home for the daughters of murdered doctor Teresa Sievers.

Her husband, Mark Sievers, is now behind bars, charged with 1st Degree Murder in her death.

It was made very clear in court Wednesday that both the mothers of Mark and Teresa Sievers want custody of the former couple's two daughters.  Judge Robert Branning did not make a determination as to where the girls would go long-term, but it was Mark Sievers who got very emotional the second he began discussing what's best for his two daughters going forward.

"Do you want anything other than what is absolutely best for those girls?"

Mark: "That's exactly what I want, is what's best for my girls."

"And barring your current inability to be with them, do you believe what's best for them is your mother?"

Mark: "Yes sir, I do."

Mark Sievers argued that his mother Bonnie should have custody of his two daughters.

After raising her right hand, she testified her relationship with them is one reason the girls should live with her.  "They feel comfortable enough to joke with me. Yet they feel comfortable enough to talk with me if they're upset about something."

Mark and his mother are concerned Teresa's mother, and current custodian of the girls, Mary Ann Graves is blocking some of Mark's phone communication with his daughters from jail.  "She does answer her phone. It's just sometimes it might take 10 times to get through and she'll tell the girls while I'm on the phone with them, 'oh, I don't want to answer it right now.'"

Sievers' attorney tells Fox 4 it's Mark's constitutional right to have the final say regarding custody of his daughters.  "We have the Constitution for a reason, and that is to protect individuals from the government.  And why shouldn't he have the final say as to where he wants his own children?" says Michael Mummert.

But the Department of Children and Families wants the girls to stay with Teresa's mother, and they want to listen to seven 15-minute conversations Mark had with the girls while incarcerated to help make their argument.

So now both parties will listen to conversations between Mark and his two daughters.  Judge Branning did not set a date for when court would be rescheduled.