SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) _ A bitter dispute between divorced parents over the final resting place for a son killed in Iraq went to court Monday, and the outcome could set a precedent for other families embroiled in post-mortem custody battles.
Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Robert Yonts began hearing arguments on behalf of Renee Amick, the mother of Army Staff Sgt. Jason Hendrix, who was buried last month in a plot next to his paternal grandfather in Oklahoma.
``This is a very sad case,'' Mike Barsi, attorney for Amick, told the court in opening remarks. ``To say that it has been emotional at times would be an understatement.''
Amick, of Watsonville, claims her son wanted to be laid to rest in Central California and is fighting for post-mortem custody.
Her ex-husband, Russell Hendrix, who lives in Claremore, Okla., says the body should stay in a family plot next to his grandfather, a retired Marine.
Hendrix, 28, was killed by a roadside bomb Feb. 16 near the Iraqi city of Ramadi.
His body was sent to Watsonville, where he was born and lived with his mother until he moved to Oklahoma to finish high school.
But his father appealed to an Oklahoma probate court and the Defense Department shipped his body to Oklahoma under a little-known policy that grants the remains of military personnel to the eldest surviving parent.
Hendrix was buried there in April.