Atatiana Jefferson’s funeral, which was scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed due to a family dispute. The funeral was scheduled for Saturday at the Potter House of Dallas, which announced the cancellation. The wake was still held Friday.
A local Dallas court granted Marquis A. Jefferson a temporary restraining order which led to the halting of the funeral, reports NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. Marquis is not Atatiana's biological father but was an important father figure in her life, the Dallas Morning News reports. He's now arguing that he was excluded from Atatiana’s funeral planning.
The order, filed on Friday, says Marquis is Atatiana's father and that he would suffer "immediate and irreparable harm" if the court did not stop Bonita Body [Jefferson’s aunt] and Golden Gate Funeral Home from participating in the activities of the wake, funeral and burial of Atatiana Jefferson. It also states that he shall now have full authority over the 28-year-old's funeral and burial arrangements.
Lee Merritt, an attorney for Atatiana’s mother Yolanda Carr, said her family is upset over the postponement.
"The family is hurt, they’re upset. They wanted to spend this day celebrating the life of Atatiana. Unfortunately, a dispute, an internal dispute has interfered with that," Merritt said.
Bruce Carter, a spokesperson for Marquis said he should be involved with the arrangements for the late aspiring medical student.
"When you start to denounce the man of his rights to be a father and to operate that capacity, I think we start talking about other civil rights, other issues — especially in the Black community, we've always accused of Black men not doing their jobs. Not standing up," Carter said.
Carter also said that Marquis has always been his daughter’s provider and had the means to pay for the funeral, stating the GoFundMe page was unnecessarily set up. He had attempted to end the campaign multiple times."Mr. Jefferson sent an email out to Mr. Merritt specifically asking him to not use his daughter's name and a funeral to gain money," Carter said. "He's the father. He's the dad. He has been her provider since day one."
Merritt says otherwise, though, stating he’s never heard from Marquis about wanting to be included in the ceremony.Carter said the funeral plans had become more of a platform for other issues rather than focusing on Atatiana’s life, reports Fox 4 KDFW.
“They don't want her death to be a spectacle or a platform for profiteering for those who wait for the moment to get on the speaker and talk about nothing that's going to make this family feel better or about the person that got murdered or died in this case,” Carter said
After the order was filed, Marquis said his daughter’s funeral would be Thursday but is now considering not opening it to the public.
Both sides were slated to meet in court Monday at 10 a.m.