MACCLENNY, Fla. -- A custody protest Sunday for Miranda Wilkerson by family included a balloon release to honor her 4th birthday.
Family and friends of the girl gathered in front of the Baker County Courthouse to remember Miranda's special day without Miranda being present.
The girl's father, Donald Coleman, a sex offender, was granted custody earlier this month by a judge after her grandmother who has cared for the girl since birth sought custody as well.
Coleman is considered a sex offender since he married Miranda's mother, Trista Crews, when she was 14 and he was 38. Trista Crews Coleman was killed in an auto accident shortly after giving birth to Miranda. Coleman was given custody earlier this month.
"It's been a very depressing day which use to be a happy day, " said Rebecca Graves, Miranda's aunt.
Miranda's family has been protesting outside the courthouse for the past week and plans to hold late afternoon gatherings until something changes.
The girl's biological father, James Wilkerson, wants Miranda to be with him or with her grandmother. Coleman who was married but separated from Miranda's mother at the time of her birth is viewed by the court's to be her legal father.
Sunday evening with storm clouds punctuated by lightening, family and friends of the little girl released balloons bearing Miranda's name since they could not be with her.
"It's hard not to be able to tell her we love her...and tell her ourself happy birthday. Just awful," said Graves while making a poster for Miranda.
First Coast News