Couple Cleared in Daughter's Death in Qatar Returns to LA - NBC Connecticut
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Couple Cleared in Daughter's Death in Qatar Returns to LA

Matthew and Grace Huang's arrival on Thursday closes a nearly two-year saga that climaxed in a court ruling absolving them of any wrongdoing in the death of their 8-year-old daughter Gloria

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    Grace and Matthew Huang, a US couple who were sentenced to three years in jail in Qatar in April 2014 for allegedly causing the death of their adopted daughter Gloria, embrace with family and friends on their arrival in Los Angeles on Dec. 4, 2014.

    A Southern California couple cleared in the death of their adopted daughter arrived in Los Angeles Thursday after a two-year legal battle.

    Matthew and Grace Huang had arrived, according to a tweet by the David House Agency, an international crisis firm that has been working with the family.

    "Mission accomplished. Matt and Grace are in Los Angeles. They have not stopped smiling."

    The couple left the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar on Wednesday.

    The couple is from the San Gabriel Valley and moved to Qatar while Matthew Huang worked in the country on preparations for its role as World Cup host in 2020.

    Officials in Qatar had accused the parents of killing their 8-year-old adopted daughter Gloria by starving her and also of obtaining all three of their children through human trafficking.

    The Huangs maintained their daughter died from an eating disorder. The Huangs appealed their sentence, and after a two-year battle, a court ruling absolved them of any wrongdoing in the death of their child.

    Their departure comes after the nation lifted a travel ban against the couple. The case drew Washington's involvement, with U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith accompanying the Huangs on Wednesday at the Doha's Hamad International Airport to ensure they cleared passport control and reached their departure gate. The Huangs' lawyer was also present.

    Officials with the U.S. State Department said Tuesday it applauds the lifting of the travel ban, and is looking forward to seeing the Los Angeles couple reunited with their other children.

    The Huangs were arrested in January 2013 on murder charges following the death in Qatar of Gloria, who was born in Ghana. The Huangs spent months behind bars before being let out on their own recognizance last November.

    After murder charges were dropped, they were convicted in March of child endangerment and sentenced to three years in prison. They were allowed to remain free pending their appeal, but banned from leaving the country.

    After a Qatari appeals court overturned charges of wrongdoing against the couple on Sunday and the judge told them they were free to go, the Huangs were stopped at the airport and had their passports confiscated as they tried to pass through airport immigration control later that day. The delay had been caused by procedural steps that needed to be completed first, according to the family's representative Eric Volz.

    Relatives blamed a culture suspicious of interracial adoptions for the legal action, and said the couple never had time to grieve their loss.

    A doctor in Qatar who conducted Gloria's autopsy determined that dehydration and a wasting disease were the cause of death. A report by Qatari police raised questions about why the Huangs would adopt children who did not share their "hereditary traits."

    The Huangs said Gloria suffered from medical problems complicated by unusual eating habits. A report prepared in the U.S. by Janice Ophoven, a pediatric forensic psychologist who reviewed the case for the family, said that Gloria was severely malnourished when she was younger and would at times refuse to eat for several days before binge eating or getting food from unusual places, such as garbage cans or from strangers.

    The Huangs, who are of Asian descent, have two other African-born adopted children who left the Qatar during the trial to live with relatives in the U.S.