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Body of Sgt. Jason Hendrix to remain in Tulsa, Okla.- Judge Rules Against Mother (tears not genuine)
Santa Cruz Sentinel Home ^ | November 2, 2005 | TOM RAGAN

Posted on 11/02/2005 1:01:54 PM PST by Former Military Chick

WATSONVILLE — Jason Hendrix, the soldier whose buried remains have been the subject of a long and bitter custody battle between divorced parents, will stay in Tulsa, Okla.

A Santa Cruz County Superior Court judge's ruling on Tuesday put a close to one of the most unusual civil cases to stem from the Iraq War.

Renee Amick, Hendrix's mother, failed to prove in court that she had an "overriding public purpose" for exhuming her son's remains, Judge Robert Yonts wrote in a 12-page ruling.

And her tearful testimony in court a month ago "appeared forced and contrived. The tears were not genuine," Yonts wrote — a line Amick called "very, very appalling."

In his ruling, Yonts wrote that, unfortunately, Hendrix would be remembered more for the legal dispute that arose from his death than for his heroic acts on the battlefield moments before his death.

"May this brave soldier, Sgt. Jason Hendrix, rest in peace," Yonts concluded.

Hendrix, a Watsonville resident until his sophomore year at Aptos High School, was killed by a roadside bomb outside Ramadi, Iraq, on Feb. 16. He had pulled several fellow soldiers from burning Bradley fighting vehicles moments before his death.

But because Army Staff Sgt. Hendrix did not have a will, nobody in the family knew where he wanted to be buried: California, where he was born and reared, or in Oklahoma, where he moved to when he was 16.

After his death, Hendrix's body was given to his father, Russell Hendrix, of Claremore, Okla., in accord with U.S. Army policy that grants the remains of dead soldiers to the eldest parent in cases where there is confusion.

Amick, however, has been fighting the Army's decision in court since late March, contending she was rightfully entitled to her son's remains.

She was the first to be notified of his death and he gave her the power of attorney, Amick testified in court.

Amick testified that she was listed as the primary next of kin on court documents, not the father.

And her son's body, she argued, was initially shipped to a Watsonville funeral home, where it lay in limbo for more than a month — not to Oklahoma.

In nearly three hours of testimony last month, Renee testified her son had told her in a telephone conversation on Mother's Day 2004 that he wanted her to handle his remains should he be killed in Iraq.

But the judge said he didn't think her testimony was credible. If it were, the judge ruled, such a fact would have surfaced immediately after her son's death and not during the trial.

"Obviously Judge Yonts doesn't know what it's like to lose a son, and I'm very proud of my son," said Amick, who broke down outside her Freedom home on Tuesday.

"All I wanted to do was to carry out his last wishes and what he wanted... No mother should ever have to go through this. It's very, very appalling that the judge would ever think that I was making up my emotions. I don't need to justify that to a judge or anybody else."

In addition to holding the judge responsible, she also cast blame on President George W. Bush.

She angrily referred to him as "the commander in chief who had no problems sending my son to Iraq and putting him in harm's way.

"But when he gets sent home in a box, they Yonts and Bush can't even honor his last wishes."

Michael Barsi, Amick's attorney, said he was not yet sure whether he would appeal the decision, but believes he has a strong case.

An appeal must be filed within 60 days at the Sixth District Court of Appeals in San Jose, he said.

"The court applied a higher standard and higher burden of proof," Barsi said. "... You can't just change the goal post in the middle of the game."

Barsi was referring to a previous case, Maffei v. Woodlawn Memorial Park 2005, upon which the judge based a portion of his decision.

In his ruling, Yonts cited the case often, including the passage that "many circumstances arise from time to time necessitating a disturbance of the repose of the dead, but it must be some controlling public reason or superior private right ..."

Barsi said the content of Maffei v. Woodlawn bore little relevance to the Hendrix case.

"In that case, a man was trying to dig up the remains of his first wife and bury them alongside his second wife," Barsi said. "That had nothing to do with our case, and the judge overlooked all of the military documents that were written in Jason's very own hand six months prior to his death."

Factors taken into account throughout the five-day trial, according to Yonts, were:

All of Hendrix's immediate family, with the exception of his mother, testified they strongly preferred he remain buried in Tulsa. Initially there was consensus among all family members including the mother that Oklahoma would be the final resting place for Jason, but the mother unilaterally reversed this decision. Hendrix's remains have been dishonored by being held in cold storage for nearly six weeks between his death and burial. To further disturb the repose of the deceased would be emotionally upsetting for all members of the family.

Sharon Cole, who represented father Russell Hendrix, said she was happy with the judge's decision.

"I feel in my heart that the right thing has been done," she said. "I really believe that this is what Jason would have wanted."

Amick did not attend her son's funeral in Oklahoma, and she had hoped to bury him here, she said.

She said Tuesday she still wasn't sure whether she would visit what appears to be his final resting place.

Contact Tom Ragan at tragan@santacruzsentinel.com.


TOPICS: Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: fallen; ghouls; jasonhendrix
The Judge is in the know, how sad these parent's did this to their son. RIP!!
1 posted on 11/02/2005 1:01:55 PM PST by Former Military Chick
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To: 2Jedismom

ping to you


2 posted on 11/02/2005 1:05:22 PM PST by groovejedi
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To: Former Military Chick

"All of Hendrix's immediate family, with the exception of his mother, testified they strongly preferred he remain buried in Tulsa. Initially there was consensus among all family members including the mother that Oklahoma would be the final resting place for Jason, but the mother unilaterally reversed this decision."

Tough one to call.


3 posted on 11/02/2005 1:10:35 PM PST by truth_seeker
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To: Former Military Chick
She said Tuesday she still wasn't sure whether she would visit what appears to be his final resting place.

So, she will fight a contentious court battle to have him dug up and re-buried in California, but she will not hop on an airplane to visit his gravesite in Oklahoma. What's up with that?

How about they just cremate him and put the remains in a FedEX envelope. He can be in California on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, in Oklahoma on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and lying on the beach in Hawaii on Sundays...

4 posted on 11/02/2005 1:13:29 PM PST by gridlock (Nature started the fight for survival, and now she wants to quit because she's losing... Monty Burns)
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To: Former Military Chick
In addition to holding the judge responsible, she also cast blame on President George W. Bush. She angrily referred to him as "the commander in chief who had no problems sending my son to Iraq and putting him in harm's way. But when he gets sent home in a box, they Yonts and Bush can't even honor his last wishes."
People say peculiar things when they're grieving, and transfer of anger is common. I hope Tom Ragan learns to be more discrete when quoting grieving mothers.
5 posted on 11/02/2005 1:21:48 PM PST by eastsider
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To: Former Military Chick; 2Jedismom

in seeing this on the news, I figured she was another Cindy Sheehan. And that was before I heard her make anti-Bush comments. She is making this all about her.


6 posted on 11/02/2005 1:32:37 PM PST by CharlieOK1 (Have you read my #1 Bestseller? There is a test. -God)
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To: eastsider

No, I think she's a Cindy-in-training. I've seen a few interviews of her locally, and she's a piece of work.


7 posted on 11/02/2005 1:47:03 PM PST by MizSterious (Now, if only we could convince them all to put on their bomb-vests and meet in Mecca...)
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To: Former Military Chick; SW6906

What's up with the soldier's chain of command for not insuring that he had a will and a medical power of attorney done before he deployed? Perhaps the Army does it differently from the Marines but we had LCpl Namsman Jr.'s will and powers of attorney before he left. There's no ambiguity in any of them. His wishes are in writing. For the curious, his first choice is Arlington National Cemetary. If you have to spend the time remaining until Judgement day somewhere, you can't find better company than there.

As a parent though, I will say that it was surreal to have my child's will in my hands. It's supposed to be the other way around.

Namsman sends.


8 posted on 11/02/2005 2:06:09 PM PST by namsman
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To: namsman

Before the brave and handsome Sgt. Phantom's first deployment to Iraq, everyone in his company had to write their will.


9 posted on 11/02/2005 2:09:57 PM PST by The Phantom FReeper (Have you hugged your soldier today?)
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To: namsman

Agreed. Our command (Navy P-3 squadron) made SURE that my husband had his will and power of attorney done well before his next 6 month deployment (which could start as early as this month - have to be evasive on details for obvious reasons)


10 posted on 11/02/2005 2:13:21 PM PST by Severa (I can't take this stress anymore...quick, get me a marker to sniff....)
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To: Former Military Chick

The woman is obviously nuts and is using the remains of her son as a tool to fight the dad.


11 posted on 11/02/2005 2:27:31 PM PST by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: groovejedi; 2witty; A Jovial Cad; AmerRepb; amigatec; Amityschild; Angry_White_Man_Syndrome; ...
Another Cindy Sheehan in the making...

Oklahoma Ping!

If you want on
or off this list
Freepmail me.

12 posted on 11/02/2005 2:34:48 PM PST by 2Jedismom (Expect me when you see me!)
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To: Former Military Chick
She was the first to be notified of his death and he gave her the power of attorney, Amick testified in court.

Hmm, with this new info, I'm going to have to reconsider and move over to the mother's side.

13 posted on 11/02/2005 2:36:12 PM PST by mtbopfuyn (Legality does not dictate morality... Lavin)
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To: CharlieOK1
I figured she was another Cindy Sheehan.

If not now, she will be. Too bad.

14 posted on 11/02/2005 2:42:27 PM PST by elbucko
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To: Former Military Chick
But because Army Staff Sgt. Hendrix did not have a will, nobody in the family knew where he wanted to be buried

All this crap for want of a piece of paper...correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it military SOP to advise - even strongly - that this kind of paperwork is in place before deployment??

People: Get it on paper. so this can't happen to you & yours.

15 posted on 11/02/2005 2:43:24 PM PST by Keith in Iowa
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To: 2Jedismom

BTTT!!!!!!


16 posted on 11/02/2005 2:46:54 PM PST by E.G.C.
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To: mtbopfuyn
Hmm, with this new info, I'm going to have to reconsider and move over to the mother's side.

Even if she should have been the one to decide in the first place, who in their right mind would go through this sort of fight after the remains are in the ground?

She is obviously just wanting to piss off the dad.

17 posted on 11/02/2005 2:48:24 PM PST by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: mtbopfuyn
Hmm, with this new info, I'm going to have to reconsider and move over to the mother's side.

I was squarely on the fence until I read this sentence:

Initially there was consensus among all family members including the mother that Oklahoma would be the final resting place for Jason, but the mother unilaterally reversed this decision.
Had she been so certain that his desire was to buried in CA as she is now, she couldn't have been part of a consensus that he be buried in OK and later change her mind.
18 posted on 11/02/2005 2:49:22 PM PST by Bob
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To: Former Military Chick

The good Sgt is in neither CA nor OK. Any important part of him that remains is somewhere far different.


19 posted on 11/02/2005 2:49:38 PM PST by muir_redwoods (Free Sirhan Sirhan, after all, the bastard who killed Mary Jo Kopechne is walking around free)
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To: Former Military Chick
Hendrix, a Watsonville resident until his sophomore year at Aptos High School, was killed by a roadside bomb outside Ramadi, Iraq, on Feb. 16. He had pulled several fellow soldiers from burning Bradley fighting vehicles moments before his death.

A true American hero! Rest in Peace, Sgt. Hendrix!

20 posted on 11/02/2005 2:51:54 PM PST by airborne (Al-Queda can recruit on college campuses but the US military can't!)
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To: Former Military Chick
Amick did not attend her son's funeral...wasn't sure whether she would visit what appears to be his final resting place.

Her true colors are showing.

This isn't about her son. It's all about her. Pardon my French, but what a horrible bitch.

21 posted on 11/02/2005 3:36:01 PM PST by Maximus_Ridiculousness (Pajamahadeen Akbar!)
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To: Former Military Chick
But because Army Staff Sgt. Hendrix did not have a will, nobody in the family knew where he wanted to be buried: California, where he was born and reared, or in Oklahoma, where he moved to when he was 16.

I thought any service person who was on active duty was required to have a will. Am I wrong?

22 posted on 11/02/2005 3:36:13 PM PST by I'm ALL Right! (WWW.ENDOFTHESPEAR.COM - A True Story. In theaters Jan 20, 2006. Click my profile.)
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To: namsman

My uncle is buried in Arlington.... amazing, moving, memorable place, but I hope he doesn't have to be joined there by many more.


23 posted on 11/02/2005 3:39:47 PM PST by Enchante (Joe Wilson: "I don't know anything about uranium, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn last night!")
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To: Bob
Initially there was consensus among all family members including the mother that Oklahoma would be the final resting place for Jason, but the mother unilaterally reversed this decision.

In hopes of using her son as a soapbox alongside Cindy Sheehan.

24 posted on 11/02/2005 3:40:14 PM PST by Maximus_Ridiculousness (Pajamahadeen Akbar!)
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To: Maximus_Ridiculousness

Yes, it sounds like this is a battle between herself and her ex-hubby...she wants to win custody again. I pray God will give her peace and she can stop this maniacle behavior, and start the healing process.


25 posted on 11/02/2005 3:40:21 PM PST by I'm ALL Right! (WWW.ENDOFTHESPEAR.COM - A True Story. In theaters Jan 20, 2006. Click my profile.)
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To: I'm ALL Right!
I pray God will give her peace and she can stop this maniacle behavior, and start the healing process.

We can only hope she doesn't try and appeal.

26 posted on 11/02/2005 3:44:16 PM PST by Maximus_Ridiculousness (Pajamahadeen Akbar!)
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To: 2Jedismom
Another Cindy Sheehan in the making...

I personally thought of Michael Schiavo myself
27 posted on 11/02/2005 8:04:13 PM PST by darbymcgill
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To: Former Military Chick

I don't know who is right or wrong in this case but any judge who claims that a mother's tears over a dead son are not genuine - that judge is simply wrong. A mother's tears are genuine.


28 posted on 11/02/2005 8:13:35 PM PST by ladyjane
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To: Severa

I noticed the "no will" comment, and found it strange. We've had several children who were in the Armed Forces, without exception the preparation of a will was required of each of them by their commanding officer. That this young man died without one is very unusual and sad.


29 posted on 11/03/2005 6:16:53 AM PST by pepperdog
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