Sherman Hemsley: Still Not Laid To Rest

There’s lots of drama surrounding the death of “The Jeffersons” star Sherman Hemsley. reported on July 24 that the “Amen” actor had died of natural causes.

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Now three months after his death, Hemsley’s body has still not been buried because of a series of legal proceedings that followed.

Hemsley’s manager and best friend, Flora Enchinton, was named the sole beneficiary in his will.

Then a Philadelphia man named Richard Thornton claimed he was the actor’s brother, and filed a civil lawsuit disputing the validity of the will.

Another person, Rev. Michael George Wells, told Fox News 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.

Sherman Hemsley

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 inadmissible.

It was also revealed in a statement during a deposition given on October 23 that 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.

Flora Enchinton’s lawyer explained the relationship noted in the deposition.

“My client was asked in her deposition about her daughter and Mr. Vargas the gentleman who owned the funeral home. They dated years ago for a short time. They are not dating now. They haven’t been dating. Mr. Vargas is married and has children. It’s more than unfortunate that he’s being dragged through the mud by these insinuations,” said attorney Alexander V. Neill.

Neill also stood by the judge’s deadline for DNA evidence.

“The Judge set the deadline to get the DNA evidence by October 15th. Mr. Davis’ motion for continuance to extend that deadline was filed on the 19th, four days after the deadline expired on the 15th. His motion for continuance contains no mention as to why he needed additional time. It was only after the court granted a pre-trial motion excluding the DNA evidence for failure to meet the deadline that these new allegations surfaced,” Neill said. “The funeral home was ordered to cooperate in allowing the lab tech to obtain the sample. Yet Mr. Davis filed no motion or sought no relief when this alleged interference was going on. I seriously doubt that Mr. Vargas would subject himself and his business to potential liability for a relationship that was over years ago.”

Davis’s office said that the Texas Health and Safety Code would give a sibling the right to decide what will be done with Hemsley’s remains. But Enchinton’s lawyer said: “It’s also important to note that even if the DNA evidence comes in, it’s not dispositive of the issue on disposition of the remains.”

Stephen Vargas, the San Jose Funeral Home, George Michael Wells, and a rep for Hemsley did not respond to requests for comment.

Isabel Sanford & Sherman Hemsley on “The Jeffersons”


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