Posted at: 04/01/2013 1:05 PM
Updated at: 04/02/2013 7:20 AM
By: Leslie Dyste
Four relatives of a Cold Spring police officer killed while on duty in November are squabbling about who should control the money donated to his family.
The public donated an undisclosed sum to at least four accounts after Tom Decker was killed while checking on a reportedly suicidal man. Now Decker's widow, ex-wife and two brothers are at odds over how to distribute the funds.
Alicia Decker, who had been married to Tom Decker for almost 14 months, is asking the court to give half the money to her and 12.5 percent to each of the officer's four children. Rebecca Decker, the officer's ex-wife and the mother of their four children, says Alicia Decker and the children should each get 20 percent.
Two of Tom Decker's brothers have volunteered to serve as trustees who ultimately would allocate the funds to the children.
Stearns County Judge John Scherer told both women Monday that a receiver will determine how much money is available in the accounts. He said one solution to dividing up the money might be a trial that would focus on the intent of each donor or the reason each account was set up.
The decision followed a mediation hearing last month that, "unfortunately and quite sadly, was not successful," the ex-wife's lawyer, Andrew Steil, wrote to the judge. Steil said his client is "deeply saddened" to have to go to court but that she "has no choice but to make sure the children receive their equal share of the memorial funds."
Among the pending issues is whether the donated money could be used to cover travel expenses so the children can travel to Washington, D.C., next month when Tom Decker's name will be added to a national memorial.
Alicia Decker, the widow, said she alone was singled out in her husband's will as his personal representative, according to court documents. But Steil argues that because the memorial funds came in after Tom Decker's death, they're not part of his estate.
Alicia Decker initially said she was ready to take control of the money. She has since agreed to let an independent trustee manage the funds.
Two of the officer's brothers, Eddie and Larry Decker, have filed court papers volunteering to serve as trustees who would allocate funds to the four children.
"Without blaming either Alicia Decker or Rebecca Decker, the fact is that their relationship has never been good and regretfully appears to have gotten ever worse since our brother's death," they said in an affidavit.
But Alicia Decker has opposed the brothers' involvement, claiming "the money will be used as a trade-off for visitation time."
Tom Decker, 31, was shot in the head Nov. 29 in an alley behind a Cold Spring bar as he responded to a call about a potentially suicidal man living upstairs. The man initially was jailed as a suspect but released due to insufficient evidence.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says the investigation is ongoing.
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