A judge on Wednesday dismissed a protective order giving the state custody of an unborn child whose parents are accused of trying to sell the child, saying there is no one to protect until the baby is born.
Third District Juvenile Court Judge Jim Michie said he has no jurisdiction while the child is still in its mother's womb.
"I am dismissing the ex parte protective order ... until we have a baby to protect," the judge said.
Alison and Gary Stuckey have been accused of traveling to Utah from Arizona to sell the child.
But an employee from A Act of Love adoption agency, which is overseeing the child's adoption, said there is nothing illegal going on.
"It's a legitimate adoption and has been since January," said Tarilee Roth, who attended the hearing with the Stuckeys.
Roth added that the accusations against the Stuckeys are "a big misunderstanding."
The Stuckeys' attorney, Larry Jenkins, who also represents the agency, said Alison Stuckey is "not due for another several weeks."
The protective order was obtained by Salt Lake City attorney Wesley Hutchins on behalf of a Mesa, Ariz., foster couple who are in the process of adopting three other children of the Stuckeys. It is the foster parents who claim Alison Stuckey intended to sell the baby.
In response to Hutchins' concern for the welfare of the unborn child, the judge said, "There are a lot of eyes on this case," including the Division of Family and Child Services and "every hospital in the state."
Hutchins told reporters after the hearing that because the Stuckeys' parental rights over three other children have been terminated, the newborn must be taken into state custody after it is born.
Yet another child of the Stuckeys was illegally sold in Utah in January 2007, according to documents filed in court by Hutchins to support his request for the protective order. The order was signed by an adult court judge on Friday.
Hutchins subsequently contacted the media about the case in an effort to locate the Stuckeys.
Hospital staff reported that Alison and Gary Stuckey were at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center about 7 p.m. Saturday, according to Hutchins.
The accusations against the Stuckeys were brought by the foster couple, who found out Alison Stuckey was again pregnant about three months ago. The foster family had offered to take the baby in addition to the other children, but Alison Stuckey told them she had found an attorney in Salt Lake City who was willing to give her $6,000 for the baby, according to court documents.
Alison Stuckey also told the foster parents she had sold a baby once before, about three years earlier, according to court documents. She said a lawyer had moved her to Salt Lake City, put the couple and their three other children up in an apartment and paid her medical expenses, the court documents state.
Alison Stuckey said that when she handed the baby over to the lawyer, she was given $6,000 and the family moved back to Arizona, according to court documents.
The foster family does not know the name of the hospital where she delivered that child, or the name of the lawyer, court documents state.
Hutchins said information about the alleged prior baby sale also comes from Alison Stuckey's father. Hutchins said he has an affidavit from her father who was told she received $4,000 for the child.
The Stuckeys declined comment on Wednesday.