It’s been three months since Sherman Hemsley strutted his way into the afterlife yet the pioneering actor still hasn’t been laid to rest due to legal proceedings centered on who should be executor of his estate and body.
FOX 411 explains:
Hemsley’s manager and self-proclaimed live-in best friend, Flora Enchinton, was named the sole beneficiary in his will. Yet after his death, a Philadelphia man named Richard Thornton claimed he was the actor’s brother, and filed a civil lawsuit disputing the validity of the will. Then a third person, Rev. Michael George Wells, told us that he was a cousin on Hemsley’s mother’s side, and the closest family to the actor.
The bench trial to determine Hemsley’s rightful beneficiary was scheduled to commence in El Paso, Texas on October 31, but Judge Patricia Chew postponed the case until November 9, when she will rule on who has the right to determine where Hemsley’s body will be buried or cremated, and whether his will is valid.
According to Mark T. Davis, an attorney for Thornton, the trial was delayed because his client was unable to travel from his home in Philadelphia due to Hurricane Sandy. At a hearing in late September, Chew ordered DNA testing to determine the Thornton/Hemsley relationship and insisted results be filed by October 15, 2012.
Thornton’s legal counsel tells FOX411 that the DNA results prove he was the late actor’s brother, but say the evidence has been ruled inadmissable.
"Although the DNA testing proved that Thornton is Hemsley’s brother, Judge Chew said Thornton will not be allowed to present the DNA test as evidence because it was filed after the deadline," Davis said in a statement issued to FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. "To conduct the DNA test, LabCorp required blood sample from Thornton and hair samples from Hemsley’s body, which is at San Jose Funeral Home in El Paso. Davis said Thornton gave a blood sample the same day the judge ordered it, but delay at the funeral home caused the late filing."
"When Judge Chew postponed the trial, she still refused to allow more time to file the DNA results," the statement continued. "Thornton said he does not understand why Judge Chew has excluded the evidence that will resolve the case."
In another bizarre twist, the statement alleged that in a deposition given on October 23, Enchinton admitted that her daughter, Jeanette Dominique Enchinton, had a "romantic relationship" with Stephen Vargas, the owner of the San Jose Funeral Home where Hemsley’s body is awaiting burial.
Now isn’t this the point of a will i.e. avoiding drama from people you obviously didn’t cut for like? Take a hint, save on a legal bill.
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