Dr. King’s children fight in court over parents’ estates

ATLANTA (AP) — Two children of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were back in court Monday in a wrangle with their brother over their parents’ estates.

The Rev. Bernice King and Martin Luther King III sued their brother, Dexter King, last year to force him to open the books of their father’s estate. The lawsuit claims Dexter King, the estate’s administrator, has refused to provide documents concerning the estate’s operations.

Dexter King, meanwhile, has a pending lawsuit against his sister, who administers their mother’s estate. He asked a judge to force her to turn over their mother Coretta Scott King’s personal papers, including love letters central to a now-defunct $1.4 million book deal. Coretta Scott King died in 2006.

Dozens of supporters and observers packed the hearing, including Ambassador Andrew Young and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, both of whom worked with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement and remain close to the King family. Lowery said the siblings have been in mediation trying to work things out, but that he was unsure what the outcome will be.

“Dexter’s the unknown factor,” Lowery said outside of the hearing. “We just don’t know what he’s going to do. It’s hard to tell.”

Dexter King, who lives in California, did not attend Monday’s hearing. His attorneys explained that he broke his right leg in a car accident in July. The attorneys said Dexter King was hospitalized for several weeks, has had to use a walker and is not allowed to travel because he cannot sit in one position for long periods of time.

His brother and sister, who live in Atlanta, were in court for the hearing.

The siblings’ relationship has deteriorated in the tense climate created by their legal battle. The three were estranged for several months, but Martin Luther King III did travel to California to see his brother after the car accident.

Another sibling, Yolanda King, died in 2007.

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