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Killer wins custody of children after 10 years in prison; guardian fights decision

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Jeremy Peoples served 10 years in prison for two murders at a Lakewood apartment complex.

The two killed were not his only victims. When he was imprisoned, Peoples left behind two children who were only babies at the time.

“It will tear my heart out,” said Maria Paulek, Peoples’ sister.

A court granted her guardianship over his two children Roman and Celestina after their father’s incarceration. Paulek raised the children and when Peoples was freed from prison, he decided he wanted his two children back.

“I don’t want them to go. They aren’t my nieces and nephews. They are my children,” said Paulek.

Last month, Magistrate Ruben Hernandez ordered Paulek to give the children back to their father.

“Give them back to a murderer. That’s what that paper says,” Paulek said referring to the court’s order.

The kids don’t want to go either.

“We don’t know this guy,” one said.

“We don’t want to go,” said the other.

The children say they’ve only seen their father five times over their entire lives. Paulek believes her brother only wants his kids back to avoid having to pay her child support.

“These are difficult cases,” said probate attorney Julie Graves who reviewed the Order. “The order is well-thought out and well-reasoned.”

Graves says the parent-child relationship is sacrosanct.

FOX31 Denver spoke with other family members who say Jeremy Peoples is trying to get his life together and they support him getting his children back.

Some family members also dispute that Paulek has had the children since Peoples was incarcerated. They say Paulek has had the children for only seven years.

Paulek is trying to find a lawyer to help, but as it stands now she’ll be forced to give the two children back to Peoples on May 31.