Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
John Ragsdale, center, with others from the David Ragsdale family, listens to his attorney's arguments during a custody hearing on Thursday. Albert Palizzi, Kristy Ragsdale's father, sits in the foreground.

PROVO — A judge Thursday awarded temporary custody of David and Kristy Ragsdale's two young sons to Kristy Ragsdale's mother.

The couple's families have become embroiled in a custody battle over the boys after David Ragsdale was arrested for fatally shooting his wife in a church parking lot in Lehi Jan. 6.

Fourth District Judge Derek Pullan ruled Thursday in favor of Kristy Ragsdale's mother, Ann Palizzi, giving her temporary custody of the couple's two young boys, Brandon, 4, and Carter, 21 months. Pullan also appointed William Jeffs as conservator for the boys, putting him in control of the estate and their assets from it.

Pullan stipulated that Palizzi must live in David and Kristy Ragsdale's Lehi home for the duration of the six-month temporary custody. He also stated that Palizzi must allow visitation for David Ragsdale's sister, Kristi Ragsdale, and David's brother Jon and his wife, Amy. Both the Ragsdale and the Palizzi families also have to agree on a Utah County therapist for the boys.

Pullan said he believes the love and concern both families have for the boys will unite the families and help them provide the best care.

"I wanted you to understand that I have great confidence for you to act in the best interest of these boys," Pullan said, speaking to both families. "They will need all your love and support, and you have the ability to give that."

Kristi Ragsdale filed a petition to be granted temporary custody of the two boys while the permanent arrangements were settled in court. Both Kristi Ragsdale and Ann Palizzi cared for the boys after their mother died and their father was arrested.

On Jan. 20, Kristi Ragsdale took the boys to her home in Salt Lake County because she believed staying in the home of David and Kristy Ragsdale without their parents caused emotional trauma, said Howard Lundgren, the Ragsdales' attorney.

After Kristi Ragsdale removed the boys, Ann Palizzi filed a petition to receive temporary custody. She was granted custody in an emergency hearing on Jan. 25. Both Palizzi and Kristi and Jon Ragsdale filed petitions giving reasons as to who the best caregiver would be for the boys. Palizzi and Jon and Amy Ragsdale are both seeking permanent custody of the boys.

Lundgren said that the Palizzi family had stopped communicating with the Ragsdales after they received temporary custody of the boys. Don McCandless, the Palizzis' attorney, told Pullan that the prosecuting attorneys asked Palizzi not speak with any members of the Ragsdale family because she is a key witness in their case.

"I'm very happy the judge gave me temporary custody of my grandsons," Palizzi said after the hearing. "It's my heart's desire to keep them safe and happy in this time of transition."

In what was her first public statement, she said she is appreciative of the respect the media has given their family and the children.

Utah County prosecutors have charged David Ragsdale with the aggravated murder of his wife. Kristy Ragsdale was shot 10 times.


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