Colorado

Feb 26, 2010 7:04 PM by Abby Lane, Greg Boyce

UPDATE 3:26 Testimony: Mary could only afford having head frozen

UPDATE 3:31 On witness stand now, Mary Jo Meade, a friend of Mary Robbins.  She testified Mary had mentioned cryonics to her once.  She said she could only afford to have her head, not her whole body, frozen.

Testifying via phone, Jennifer Newman, another Pikes Peak Hospice employee testified cryogenics protocols were not in place there when Mary Robbins was admitted.

 

UPDATE 2:26 First witness for the Robbins family is Judith Richard of Pikes Peak Hospice. She said Mary was in a lot of pain before she died. Daughter Darlene asked her if she'd ever worked with someone who wanted to be frozen. Richard said she hadn't and that they would not be able to admit Mary because they could not comply with the cryonics protocols. This conversation happened at Mary's home. She said she then got a call from Darlene on Sunday that her mom had changed her mind and no longer wanted to be frozen and would be coming to Pikes Peak Hospice.


UPDATE 2:08 Alcor Transport Coordinator Aaron Drake said Mary Robbins told him she had terminal cancer. He said she seemed to want to go through with the cryonics procedure. He said he received an emergency text message on February 5. He spoke to daughter Darlene Robbins. He testified Darlene said Mary was considering moving to Arizona and discussed options.

Drake also said he had a conversation with a sister, Jeannette in Michigan. She was concerned about pain. Later he learned Mary had been admitted to Pikes Peak Hospice in Colorado Springs. Drake said he was given no indication Mary had changed her mind about cryonics. Drake said he flew to Colorado Springs and went to Pikes Peak Hospice. He said he brought legal documents with him. He said hospice employees told him to leave. Drake said he was concerned to didn't have access to Mary. He then learned Mary had passed away.

He was then told the family didn't want to do this (cryonics procedure) anymore. That's when he learned the beneficiary had changed. He said he then called every mortuary in Colorado Springs until he found the body at Shrine of Remembrance.


UPDATE 12:02 Judge Hughes says she will try to issue a ruling today. Court is in recess until 1:30.

Discussion over last few minutes centered on what Robbins signed up for. Dr. Wowk said the document didn't mention cryonics. Also discussion about stand by procedures and whether or not they were done.


UPDATE: 11:25 Dr. Wowk says he was informed that annuity was rerouted and says board decided that they couldn't cancel arrangements solely on telephone calls. Felt obligated to proceed. Alcor made arrangements to maintain body on dry ice until issue was resolved. Dr. Wowk says Alcor will proceed with cryonics even if money isn't available. Will be in a financially worse position but feel they are ethically obligated to do it. Says there may have been a miscommunication related to a belief that Mary Robbins thought she couldn't go to hospice because of the pain medication and still have cryonics procedure done.


UPDATE 11:18 a.m. Third witness is Dr. Brian Wowk. He's a member of Alcor board of directors. He apologized for any miscommunication with Robbins' family that led to lawsuit. He then explained the process of cryonics, which involves placing bodies in very cold temperatures in hopes that future science will be able to revive them. Wowk has been involved with Alcor since 1986.

Wowk says in contract there are ways for Alcor to cancel agreement and ways for members to cancel membership. Wowk says on February 10 he spoke to daughter Darlene Robbins. He says she informed him that beneficiary had been changed. He testified he asked about the change and Darlene declined to answer question.


UPDATE 10:50 a.m. An Alcor employee Jennifer Chapman is now testifying by phone. She says that she didn't see a document revoking Alcor membership in her file for Mary Robbins.

Chapman says she and another employee spoke to daughter Darlene Robbins on February 8, a week before Mary Robbins died. She said they talked about ways a hospice could help them go through the process of chilling Robbins' body. Chapman said Darlene sounded "negative" but that she supported her mother's wishes.

Chapman said Darlene did not mention the annuity, which would have paid Alcor $50,000.


Colorado Springs Probate Judge Barbara Hughes is hearing the strange case of Mary Robbins, who died from cancer a couple of weeks ago. She had wanted her body placed at Alcor in Arizona, a non-profit organization that stores human remains in very cold temperatures in hopes science will someday make it possible to revive them.

Robbins agreed to this procedure in 2006, but her family says after she because ill will cancer a few months ago she changed her mind. A few days before her death she changed the beneficiary of her will, meaning Alcor would no longer get the $50,000 that would pay for the cryonic procedure.

The day after Robbins died, at a local mortuary, Alcor claimed the body and began packing the head in dry ice each day.

Today, Mary Robbin's grandson and his wife are in the courtroom in a hearing that is scheduled to last all day. Lawyers are talking about the laws that can be applied in this case, including the anatomical gift act, and last remains act.

Those who will be called as witnesses are not allowed in court except when they are on the witness stand.

News First filed a request to put a camera in the courtroom for today's proceedings, but it was denied.

Judge Hughes is trying to determine if there was a cancellation of the agreement with Alcor under the last remains act and whether there was anything in writing by Mary Robbins that revoked that declaration.

The first witness was Joan Teslow, the attorney who did Robbins' estate planning in 2006.

 

 

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