Although Shannon Price had petitioned the court to become special administrator over Gary Coleman’s estate, and ex-girlfriend Anna Gray had argued that a 2005 will drawn up by Coleman made her executor of the estate, Fourth District Judge James Taylor appointed Robert Jeffs, an independent Provo attorney, special administrator of the estate until a decision could be made about the wills. According to the Associated Press, Taylor also ordered that Coleman’s body, which has been kept at a mortuary in Sandy, Utah, since the state medical examiner released the remains, be cremated no sooner than Wednesday, allowing Anna Gray time to view his body one last time.
Robert Jeffs knew nothing about the appointment, and wasn’t at the hearing Monday. After learning of the judge’s decision, he told the Associated Press, “All I know about the death, the estate and the dispute is what I’ve read in the media.”
Although no adjudication was made concerning the various versions of wills purporting to be the final wishes of Gary Coleman, the child star actor best known for his role as Arnold Jackson in the NBC hit sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes,” the number of contenders for the estate dwindled to two Monday as well. Dion Mial, Gary Coleman’s former manager and named executor in a 1999 will, withdrew his petition to be named special administrator. Mial’s attorney, Kent Alderman, told CNN, “Based upon the most recently proffered will, it doesn’t look like we have a dog in this fight.”
According to Alderman and Mial’s legal argument against Shannon Price, neither does the ex-wife. They had argued that Price’s divorce from Coleman in 2008 precluded her right to anything, unless the two had been remarried — which they were not. But, Shannon Price, who petitioned the court on Thursday and submitted a handwritten codicil to an unsigned 2006 will that gave her control of Coleman’s estate, argued that, the divorce notwithstanding, she was Gary Coleman’s common law wife, making the handwritten addendum legal.
Anna Gray’s 2005 will makes her executor of Coleman’s estate. Since it was the latest legally executed will, it superseded the 1999 will. By law, if Price’s claim of common law marriage is found valid, then the codicil she filed with the state of Utah might also be found valid.
Two of the wills stated that Gary Coleman was to be cremated.
Monday’s hearing wasn’t without its moment of contention, despite the delayed ruling. Although Price made no comment during the proceedings, her attorneys objected to the judge’s decision to allow Anna Gray 48 hours to view Coleman.
While Judge Taylor ponders the legalities of the wills, more questions have arisen about Price’s actions and motives on the day Coleman died. CNN reported Monday that Coleman had a living will that stated that, after a diagnosis where he had “been in a coma for at least 15 days and that the coma is irreversible, meaning that there is no reasonable possibility of my ever regaining consciousness,” any life support efforts were to be ended.
Shannon Price ordered the hospital to suspend life support just hours after Coleman slipped into a coma, citing an October 2006 “advanced medical directive.” He died just a few hours after the life support machines were shut down.
Gary Coleman was hospitalized on May 26, slipped into a coma on May 27, and died on May 28. Although there has been much speculation about the degree of the involvement in the accident that led to the hospitalization and certain subsequent actions — the taking and selling of death bed photos, the interviews, the removal of property from Coleman’s house, etc. — by Shannon Price in the chain of events leading up to Monday’s hearing, as yet there has been nothing she has done that can be considered unlawful.
Dion Mial has made no secret that he believes something untoward occurred: “I wholeheartedly believe there was foul play here,” he told Radar Online.
Randy Kester, Gary Coleman’s lawyer at the time of death, and now Anna Gray’s lawyer as well, said that Gray had not formed an opinion on whether or not foul play was involved in Coleman’s death.
“Anna indicated to me that she wants to be certain that the best investigation that could be done, was done,” Kester told Radar Online.
“I have no reason to question that State Medical Examiner,” he added.
Gary Coleman reportedly died of a brain hemorrhage caused by trauma to the head, which Coleman sustained when he apparently fell at his Santaquin, Utah, home on May 26. The actor was 42.
Associated Press via Salt Lake Tribune