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Begging to differ

Williams' eldest daughter asks judge to keep jurisdiction

Posted: Tuesday August 13, 2002 8:41 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Ted Williams' eldest daughter asked a judge to keep jurisdiction in the dispute with her half-siblings on whether to cremate or deep freeze the slugger's body.

The request made Tuesday by Bobby-Jo Williams Ferrell came five days after the executor of Williams' estate withdrew his request asking the judge to help resolve the spat over Williams' body.

The estate's executor, Al Cassidy, said last week he's convinced the Hall of Famer wanted to be cryonically frozen and that a judge's guidance was no longer necessary.

But Ferrell argued in court papers filed in Citrus County Circuit Court that Williams' desire to be cremated as stated in his will should be honored unless there is other "clear and convincing" evidence that he changed his mind.

Williams said in his will that he wanted to be cremated and his ashes scattered off the Florida coast. But his youngest children, John Henry Williams and Claudia Williams, maintain they signed a handwritten pact with their father in November 2000 agreeing that their bodies would be frozen.

Cassidy said last week he withdrew his petition because of the pact, a report by a handwriting expert attesting to its authenticity, and an affidavit from Claudia Williams saying her father knew what he was doing when he signed the piece of paper. Williams was in the hospital to be fitted for a pacemaker when he signed the pact.

Ferrell said in court papers that the handwriting expert's report didn't explain why the pact was torn on the edges or whether different tests could have been performed on the note.

She also said she wanted to examine Williams' medical records to determine his condition when he signed the pact at the hospital and that she planned to call witnesses who would testify that Williams wanted to be cremated.

There are "numerous issues which must be examined by the court prior to the final disposition of the body being finalized," Ferrell said.

An attorney for John Henry and Claudia Williams said he would ask Judge Patricia Thomas to dismiss Ferrell's request by arguing that Ferrell didn't have standing since her father cut her out of his will.

"I don't think there is any basis in the law for the petition," attorney Robert Goldman said.

Goldman also said he planned to serve Ferrell's attorney with a motion for sanctions demanding attorneys' fees because he considered Ferrell's petition "frivolous."

Ferrell's attorney, Richard Fitzpatrick, couldn't be reached at his office after hours Tuesday and had an unlisted home telephone number.

 
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