The remains of a man killed in a motorcycle crash will remain at a funeral home until a jury decides if his father, or the woman who says she’s his common-law wife will get the ashes.
David Torres’ funeral was interrupted on June 21 in East El Paso, when police officers halted the ceremony because of a court order from U.S. District Judge William ‘Bill’ Moody.
David Torres was killed in a motorcycle crash in Austin in mid-June. He grew up in Belen, New Mexico, but friends say he moved to El Paso in 2004 and has been living with what they believe is his common-law wife, Liz Gomez, for several years. She is the one who paid and organized the funeral in Mt. Carmel on the eastside that was interrupted by the court order.
Gomez says Torres was her common-law husband, but Torres’ father, Gilbert Torres, wants to keep his sons remains.
He says he is the sole surviving parent, and that his sons remains belong next to his mother’s, who has also died, in Belen.
On Wednesday, Judge Bill Moody said that in 24 years of sitting on the bench, he had never heard a case like this one. “These people have been going on through this tragedy for long enough”, he said.
In a pre-trial hearing, the two attorneys made opening statements. The attorney for Gilbert Torres showed a picture of a headstone that read “torres” and had the names of David’s mother, and his 4 siblings, as well as his father.
He said that all his 79-year-old client wants is to have his child rest in peace with his family. They want all of David’s ashes for religious purposes, while Gomez is willing to divide the ashes with the Torres family.
Gomez’s attorney argued that the court did not have the jurisdiction to determine where Torres’ remains should go because it couldn’t determine family status.
The judge decided that a jury should hear the case and gave the attorneys 60 to 90 days to prepare their case.
He also ordered Mt. Carmel Funeral home to cremate Torres’ body immediately – something both families agreed to, and to keep the ashes until the jury decides who should keep them permanently.