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U.S. serviceman wages child custody battle after wife sold baby she claimed had died

June 1, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
U.S. serviceman wages child custody battle after wife sold baby she claimed had died

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U.S. soldier wages child custody battle over baby wife had claimed died at birth.

A U.S. soldier has wage a child custody battle against the state of Arizona for a baby boy that his estranged wife alleged died at birth — but instead, the woman the infant boy to another couple.

The man, Sergeant Steven Garcia, isn’t even the child’s biological father.

The 24-year-old, who was a patrol supervisor in Seoul, South Korea, believed his wife was pregnant with his baby when he was deployed overseas for his assignment last years.

In January, his sister told him that his wife, Marina Garcia, gave birth in Sierra Vista, Arizona, but the child died.

Steven was devastated, but after a month he found out that the baby was actually alive and healthy.

In February, an Arizona highway patrolman stopped a vehicle with out-of-state plates for speeding, and inside was a couple with a 3-day-old newborn.

Sgt Steven Garcia’s (left) estranged wife Marina Garcia (above right) sold their baby boy to a couple

That newborn turned out to be the baby Marina said had died — she’d sold it to the couple because she did want anything to do with it.

The couple, 33-year-old Alex Hernandez, and his wife, Leslie Morin Hernandez, 41, were interviewed and authorities learned that they weren’t the infant’s biological parents.

Alex had fraudulently signed the birth certificate identifying him as the father after Marina struck an arrangement with them.

The couple was arrested and the child, Leo, was transferred into the custody of Arizona’s Department of Child Safety.

Marina was questioned by authorities and she confessed to signing away her parental rights.

“The only thing on her mind was getting rid of the child, this problem in her life,” Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre said to KVOA.

Marina told detectives that she had didn’t know who the father was, and there was no way it could be her husband because he was abroad — but when police called Steven, he told them the last time the couple had sex was around the time of conception.

Steven was shocked.

Alex Hernandez (right) Leslie Morin Hernandez (left)

“I was under the assumption that she was pregnant and I was the father,” Steven told KVOA.

DNA tests revealed the opposite.

“When I found out I wasn’t, I was upset. I was in denial. I couldn’t believe what was going on.”

He didn’t believe the police — so he raced back to the U.S. on emergency leave to figure out the situation.

His cousin said he was awarded eight visits with Leo but was not granted custody.

Marina and the Hernandez couple were charged in February with kidnapping, fraudulent schemes, conspiracy and fraud by concealment,

The couple pleaded guilty to some of the charges, others were dropped, and they sentenced to four years of probation.

Marina entered a guilty plea to a felony count of an attempted fraudulent scheme for falsifying the birth certificate and is expected to be sentenced in June while her lawyer fights a recommendation that she be sent to prison.

For now, Baby Leo is stuck in a legal purgatory, living in foster care with no parents.

Steven is hoping to change that.

Even though he’s not the father and is going to divorce Marina, he’s fighting the state of Arizona for custody and has launched a GoFundMe to assist with his travel and legal fees. His mission is inspired by one thing: He was adopted and his adopted father “changed” his life.

“Without him, I would not be where I am, and for the opportunity to do that for someone, I believe it’s important. It could change the child’s life and give him a better future, and I believe that’s the right thing to do,” Steven added.

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