Colorado Family Won't File Appeal for Frozen Remains

By: Samantha Abernethy, Associated Press Writer Email
By: Samantha Abernethy, Associated Press Writer Email

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - A Colorado family has decided not to appeal a judge's decision to allow their mother's remains to be cryogenically frozen.

Mary Robbins, 71, signed a contract with Alcor Life Extension Foundation in 2006 and set aside $50,000 to pay for her preservation. She died of cancer Feb. 9.

In a settlement with the family Wednesday, Alcor agreed to give the family the $50,000 annuity and Alcor will pay for the handling of Robbins' remains. Her head will be frozen, and the rest of her body will be cremated and returned to the family.

Alcor is the group that preserved the head of Red Sox baseball legend Ted Williams after a legal battle between his children.

Darlene Robbins says her mother changed her mind before she died, but Alcor argued Robbins did not complete the proper paperwork. El Paso County Probate Court Magistrate Barbara L. Hughes agreed with Alcor Monday that Robbins' final will gives custody of her body to Alcor.

Eric Bentley, attorney for Alcor, said Monday it was a misunderstanding that led Mary Robbins to sign the papers on her deathbed.

"Some members of Mary's family evidently reached the conclusion that Mary needed to choose between getting relief of her pain in hospice and having her body go to Alcor," Bentley said.

Friends of Mary Robbins testified in court that she was weakened by pain in her final days, and a friend had to steady her hand while she signed the form to transfer the annuity funds. They also said Robbins had spoken often about wanting her head preserved cryogenically.

Robbins' body has been packed in dry ice at a Colorado Springs funeral home during these proceedings. Her body will be transported immediately to Alcor's facility in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"We are pleased the matter could be resolved quickly and in a way that's consistent with Mary's wishes and acceptable to her family," Bentley said.

A call to the family's attorney Robert Scranton was not immediately returned.

The same group also preserved the head of Williams, a Hall of Famer, after his death in 2002 - and a court fight between his son and daughter. Williams' son wanted the baseball player's remains to be cryogenically frozen, but his daughter wanted them to be cremated. They battled in court for two years until the daughter dropped the case.

In 2009, a former Alcor employee alleged in a book that Williams' head had been mistreated at the Alcor facility. Alcor denied the allegations and tried to block the release of the book.

"It's not unusual for there to be disputes because what Alcor does is novel to so many people," Bentley said Monday. "And there's always a chance that relatives will have strong feelings about these matters when they learn that a relative has expressed this wish for the disposition of their remains."

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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