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Lesbian who lost custody of daughter to killer dad dies

January 22, 1997

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) _ A lesbian who lost custody of her daughter to her ex-husband, even though he had killed his first wife, has died of a heart attack.

Mary Ward’s death Tuesday will likely mean the end of the unusual case since she had been considering an appeal to Florida’s Supreme Court, said her lawyer, Charlene Carres.

Twelve-year-old Cassey Ward lived with her mother until August 1995 when Circuit Judge Joseph Tarbuck revoked custody, saying he wanted to give Cassey a chance to live in ``a non-lesbian world.″

The child was given to the girl’s father, John Ward, even though he had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of his first wife in 1974 and served eight years in prison.

Five months ago, a state appeals court rejected Ms. Ward’s appeal, saying it was based on the child’s best interests not her mother’s sexual orientation.

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