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Woman's remains can be frozen, judge rules, despite protest

DENVER — The remains of a Colorado woman can be frozen by an Arizona nonprofit organization in hopes future technology will be able to revive her, a judge ruled Monday in granting the woman's original wish, despite her daughter's protest.

The final will of Mary Robbins, 71, gives custody of her body to Alcor Life Extension Foundation of Scottsdale, Ariz., so her head can be cryogenically frozen, said El Paso County Probate Court Magistrate Barbara Hughes.

The same group preserved the head of baseball legend Ted Williams after a court fight within Williams' family.

Robbins, of Colorado Springs, died of cancer on Feb. 9. She signed an agreement with Alcor in 2006 and set up a $50,000 annuity to cover preservation costs.

Her daughter, Darlene Robbins of Pueblo, Colo., said her mother changed her mind two days before she died, signing new paperwork to give her family custody of her body, as well as the annuity.

But Hughes said Monday that the document that Mary Robbins signed just before her death didn't change her previous decision to have Alcor freeze her remains.

"That's a very personal decision, and it's hers to make and not anybody else's," said Eric Bentley, an attorney for Alcor.

No phone listing could be found for Darlene Robbins. Her attorney, Robert Scranton, declined to comment.

Alcor is working with the family outside court to decide who will get the annuity, but Alcor is willing to preserve Robbins' body at its own expense to fulfill her wishes, Bentley said. It was a misunderstanding that led Mary Robbins to sign the papers on her deathbed, he said.

Friends of Mary Robbins testified in court that she was weakened by pain in her final days, and a friend had to steady her hand while she signed the form to transfer the annuity funds. They also said Robbins had spoken often about wanting her head preserved cryogenically — a technique that uses extremely low temperatures.

Mary Robbins' body remains packed in dry ice in a Colorado Springs funeral home pending the outcome of the legal battle. The daughter has 72 hours to file an appeal.

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