St. Paul murder victim’s funeral held in violation of court order

A family mourning a murdered St. Paul man took a second emotional blow when a funeral home went forward with services that they didn’t want, and while they were in another state.

Last Friday, a Ramsey County judge gave the order that Cordell Martin and only Cordell Martin had the legal right to bury his brother.

Two days later, Cordell was in Arizona when someone else buried his brother in St. Paul.

Cordell Martin may have moved to Arizona, but he kept St. Paul and his brother in his heart.

So when he got the news in May that someone shot and killed Michael, Cordell’s wife says he broke down.

"It was very devastating," said Lena Martin.

Cordell and Michael’s mother had recently passed away and they had no surviving siblings.

But Cordell found himself in a legal fight over who had the right to bury him.

A judge ruled in his favor Friday, naming him special administrator for the cremation and funeral service.

"So we were under the assumption that you know, we had everything in order for the service," Lena Martin said. "When we returned back to Arizona, we were then notified that there was a funeral date that was set."

Cordell had arranged for St. Paul’s Spielman Mortuary to handle his brother’s funeral, but he was hearing someone else scheduled it at Brooks Funeral Home about a mile away.

From their home in Arizona, he and his wife called Margret Brooks and they emailed her court documents proving that he alone could schedule funeral services.

Brooks Funeral Home still held the services on Sunday.

The chief investigator at the Ramsey County medical examiner’s office told FOX 9 that funeral homes are responsible for ensuring they’re dealing with the legal next of kin, so we tried to ask how this happened.

Margret Brooks didn’t have answers.

"He told you he was the legal next of kin," our reporter told Brooks. "He sent you the documentation."

"We’re going to let the family… the father’s on his way up here," Brooks said. "I hope he doesn’t do anything."

Brooks walked away from our questions, but the Martins don’t intend to walk away from this fight.

"It cannot be forgiven," Lena Martin said. "It's something that we can't get back. We they took away our moment to say our final goodbyes to my husband's last living brother."

They’re in the process of filing a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Health and working with an attorney to figure out what their rights are now.