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American men held after helping take U.S. girl for father

January 21, 1997

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) _ Two Americans arrested on charges of helping seize a 5-year-old Colorado girl on behalf of her father were reportedly free on bail Monday, but were ordered to stand trial by a Mexican judge.

The mother of the girl, who violated a 1993 Colorado court order by bringing the child to Mexico, failed to appear Monday at a court hearing, prosecution spokesman Baudelio Montes Gonzalez said in Chapala, 25 miles south of Guadalajara.

Police who went to her home were unable to locate her, Gonzalez said.

Judge Jaime Gomez reduced charges of aggravated kidnapping of a minor to illegal taking of a child in the case against Stephen Bruce Brown, 52, of Fullerton, Calif., and Gregory Bingham Hadley, 34, of Pleasanton, Calif., but ordered them to stand trial.

The charge carries a possible sentence of one to four years.

Both men were freed from jail after paying a bond of $7,700 each, the Guadalajara daily Siglo 21.

The two men had confessed to helping a friend, Christopher B. Handsel, rescue his daughter, Kaelyn Elizabeth Morgan, from her stepfather’s car on Jan. 14 near here. Handsel, of Fort Collins, Colo., had a U.S. order granting him sole custody of the child.

Kaelyn and her father are believed to be in the Los Angeles area.

The mother, Kristina Marie Morgan Barker, was living with her husband and Kaelyn in Ajijic on the shores of Lake Chapala, a haven for U.S. and Canadian retirees.

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