Legislators hear testimony of teen who legally divorced his father

Candy Chan and Neil Mirochnick

A former Quincy, Mass., youth who survived the tragedy of his mother’s death at his father’s hands testified Thursday on behalf of a bill that would allow children to cut ties with a parent convicted of murdering a spouse.

Patrick Holland, now 18, legally divorced his father, Daniel Holland, who murdered his mother, Elizabeth, in 1998.

At a hearing before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary, Holland urged lawmakers to create a law that would help others avoid the long court proceedings he suffered through.

“Kids in my situation have already been through a loss. They don’t need to go through more hardships,” Holland said. “This law would create options and allow them to do what they want, where I was never able to.”

Patrick was 8 years old when he found his mother’s body in her bedroom after his father shot her. Daniel Holland was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He tried to remain active in his son’s life, asking to receive school report cards and keep custody of his child.

Patrick eventually terminated contact with his biological father, but only after four years in court. His adopted father, Ron Lazisky, stopped working at one point to dedicate himself to the case full-time.

The bill, called “Patrick’s Law,” was drafted at the kitchen table in Holland’s adopted family’s home in Sandown, N.H., by Rep. Peter Koutoujian, a Waltham, Mass., Democrat.

“This bill is not something that will affect a lot of people, but those it will affect, it will do so in a profound way,” Koutoujian said. “I hope we can save other children from being revictimized.”

When Koutoujian first visited Holland, he mistook Patrick, who was 14 at the time, for his adopted father, Ron Lazisky. Patrick carried himself as an adult.

“Because of what he went through, Patrick was robbed of his childhood,” Koutoujian said. “He had the demeanor of a grown man.”

The bill, which stalled after its introduction in 2004, has gained new life as domestic homicides have become a serious problem in Massachusetts, Koutoujian said.

In 2007, 39 people in Massachusetts were murdered by intimate partners -- a significant increase from 2005, when 14 such cases occurred, said David Adams, the co-director of Emerge Counseling and Education in Cambridge, Mass.

“I like to think that through something tragic that happened to me I can help other people,” Holland said. “This is a great avenue for someone who went through it first-hand to go out and say this is what should happen.”

Patriot Ledger writer Candy Chan may be reached at Patriot Ledger writer Neil Mirochnick may be reached at