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Pair lose custody rights

2 charged in slaying of Shelby can’t keep their other children

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BRIGHAM CITY — A judge has stripped the Syracuse couple charged in the beating death of 10-year-old Shelby Andrews of their custody rights to three remaining children.

Ryan Andrews, 38, and Angela Andrews, 35, both declined on Friday to admit or deny abuse or neglect allegations levied against them in custody petitions filed in 1st District Juvenile Court.

State law requires a judge to consider petition allegations to be true if a defendant fails to answer to the allegations, Judge Larry Andrews said before issuing his ruling.

Two of the children — an 8-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy — are the biological siblings of Shelby Andrews, whose parents are Ryan Andrews and Karen Hale. Hale plans to seek custody of the two remaining children, her attorney Mike Studebaker said.

"It's been a traumatic experience for everyone involved, and the children have expressed a desire to live with her again," he said.

The third child is Shelby Andrews' 16-year-old stepbrother, the biological child of Angela Andrews and Chris Cowdin. In court Friday, Codwin said he'll also seek custody of his son.

Custody hearings for Hale and Cowdin are set for Sept. 25. All three children have been in temporary state custody since Aug. 10 and have been placed with other relatives.

The venue for the custody proceedings was moved to Brigham City to avoid a possible conflict of interest with 2nd District Court judges in Farmington who may hear the murder and sexual assault cases filed against Ryan and Angela Andrews.

Police found Shelby Andrews dead at her Syracuse home Aug. 1 after her brother called 911. Police say the child's body showed severe bruises and bite marks. The cause of death was head trauma.

Investigators believe the girl may have suffered abuse for up to year before she died.