Judge to decide fate of Jackson County woman buried in her yard - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Judge to decide fate of Jackson County woman buried in her yard

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Patsy Davis was buried in her front yard in Stevenson in 2009. Patsy Davis was buried in her front yard in Stevenson in 2009.
JACKSON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

It will soon be up to a Jackson County judge to decide the fate of a woman's remains who were buried in her own front yard.

It happened nearly three years ago at a downtown home in the city of Stevenson.

James Davis said it was his wife Patsy's dying wish to be buried in the front yard, so that's what he did.

He received approval from the health department but not the city. The city is now suing to have her remains removed.

His wife died April 18th, 2009, so Davis testified he found out what it would take to have her buried, which included public health department approval - which he did. He also sought city council approval, but they denied it.

Davis testified he buried his wife in May 2009 at their home at 202 Broad Street saying it was easier to get forgiveness later than ask permission.

Attorneys for the city who filed the suit maintain Davis did not get city council approval to put his wife's remains in the front yard and are asking the judge to order the body exhumed and placed somewhere else.

If Davis never got city council approval, why does he believe he has a legal right to bury his wife in the yard?

Many years ago people stopped burying family members on family land. Cities began regulating where people could be buried by passing ordinances.

However, Davis's attorneys maintain the city of Stevenson never did.

Davis testified he did everything possible to get city council approval to bury his wife at home, but they refused despite getting approval from the public health department.

A city councilman testified there were concerns over citizen complaints, location of the cemetery, and who would care for the cemetery in the yard in the years after Davis's death, so it was denied.

So in May 2009 and without city approval, Davis said he buried his wife but still attempted to get council approval one more time before learning there wasn't a city ordinance regulating cemeteries.

Testimony has been scheduled to resume March 1st at 1:30.

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