May 25 (UPI) -- A Brazilian couple was convicted of helping their daughter kidnap her son in a Texas federal court Friday.
The verdict from a split jury came five years into Houston doctor Chris Brann's fight to retrieve his son Nicolas, now 8, from Brazil after his ex-wife Marcella Guimaraes took him there for a temporary trip in July 2013. She then refused to return with their son, known as Nico.
The same jury acquitted Guimaraes' parents -- Carlos Otavio Guimaraes, 67, and his wife Jemima Guimaraes, 66 -- of conspiring with their 40-year-old daughter to relocate permanently, in violation of a custody order in Harris County family court. The couple was accused of helping her secure a job there and enrolling Nico in a Brazilian school.
The boy's mother is wanted in the case, but remains in Brazil. She took Nico to Brazil with Brann's permission for a family wedding and refused to return. She petitioned a Brazilian court that year to grant her sole custody and enrolled Nico in a Brazilian school.
Brann has said he's spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to get his son back, and has sought the help of the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Hague Abduction Convention. That's a 1988 international agreement that strives to return children removed in violation of custody agreements.
Nico's grandparents were arrested earlier this year when they arrived at a Miami, Fla., airport to attend the birthday party of a different grandchild. They will remain under house arrest at their son's Houston home pending sentencing and face up to three years in prison.
Brann, an internal medicine doctor at Baylor College of Medicine, said he had mixed feelings about the conviction.
"I never wanted it to come to this and the only thing I want is for my son to come home," he said. "I hope they will take responsibility for their actions and do everything they can to have him come home as soon as possible."
Brann issued a separate statement after the verdict, saying it was "an incredibly sad day" and vowing to advocate for a lenient sentence for the grandparents if his son is immediately returned to the U.S.