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ADDITIONAL CASESIn the Matter of the Petition of Raquiyah Kelly for Letters of Administration in the Estate of Gilbert Scott-Heron, Deceased; 2011-2283/BDECISION and ORDER Incident to cross-petitions for the appointment of an administrator in the estate of Gilbert Scott-Heron,1 the court held the issuance of letters of administration in abeyance pending a kinship determination to be made after a hearing. Decedent’s alleged son, Rumal Rackley, has been acting as temporary administrator since November 30, 2011.Following a hearing held on December 5, 2018, the court determined that decedent was survived by four adult children: Gia Scott-Heron (“Gia”), Chegianna Newton (“Chegianna”), Raquiyah Nia Kelly Heron (“Raquiyah”), and Rumal Rackley (“Rumal”), as his sole distributees.As a threshold matter, in light of the documents admitted into evidence, all objections to decedent’s paternity of Gia, Chegianna, and Raquiyah were withdrawn, and the court determined that kinship was established as to the three daughters.2 As to Rumal, in addition to consideration of documentary evidence,3 the court heard testimony of Earnest A. Jackson, Jr., and Lurma Rackley, and found the testimony credible and compelling. Mr. Jackson, a friend and business associate of decedent’s, described his decades-long relationship with decedent and testified that decedent had four children: Gia, Rumal, Raquiyah and Chegianna. In particular, as to Rumal, the testimony of Mr. Jackson established that decedent introduced Rumal as his son and publicly recognized him as such. As testified to by Mr. Jackson, this acknowledgment is amply demonstrated in the name of decedent’s record company, Rumal-Gia Records Limited, and its logo, which features two children joining hands around a globe.Also testifying for petitioner was Lurma Rackley, Rumal’s mother. Ms. Rackley testified that decedent was Rumal’s father and identified several documents, including a handwritten letter that decedent had written to Rumal. Among the other documents introduced into evidence were various liner notes from decedent’s albums and written by him, which expressly recognize and identify by name decedent’s children, including Rumal.4The court found that the proof, in particular the statements and actions of decedent, made in very public fora over a span of many years, constituted clear and convincing evidence of decedent’s open and notorious acknowledgment that Rumal was his son, thereby establishing paternity in accordance with EPTL 4-1.2(a)(2)(C).Accordingly, the court determined that decedent was survived by four children, namely Rumal Rackley, Gia Scott-Heron, Chegianna Newton, and Raquiyah Nia Kelly Heron as his sole distributees.Letters of AdministrationThe reports of Jeffrey St. Clair, guardian ad litem for unknown distributees, and Lawton Squires, prior guardian ad litem for Chegianna Newton, have been received and their recommendations considered.Pursuant to SCPA 1001(1)(f)(i), the petition of Rumal for Letters of Administration is hereby granted and the cross-petition of Raquiyah is denied. Rumal has served as temporary administrator of the estate for over seven years and a proceeding to judicially settle his intermediate account is pending in this court. The concerns raised by Raquiyah in her application are not an adequate basis for denial of Rumal’s appointment as administrator and, to the extent that they have any validity, are more appropriately brought as objections in the pending accounting proceeding. The rationale for appointing Rumal as temporary administrator, as expressed in this court’s decision dated November 30, 2011, applies equally to his appointment as permanent administrator.This decision, together with the transcript of the proceedings of December 5, 2018, constitute the order of the court. Petitioner shall settle a decree appointing Rumal Rackley as administrator and providing for the compensation of the guardians ad litem.The clerk of the court is directed to mail a copy of this decision to all parties in these proceedings.Dated: May 2, 2019

 
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