Lawsuit: elaborate plot uncovered to move prominent Houston lawyer's body from Texas to Louisiana

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Fight over prominent Houston lawyer's body

When famed lawyer John O'Quinn crashed his car and died on a rain slicked section of Allen Parkway, few people close to him thought that seven years later, he still wouldn't be able to rest in peace.

But on this Day of the Dead, the controversy over O'Quinn's body is very much alive.

For more than a decade, Darla Lexington was by O'Quinn's side. She accompanied him to galas, and was next to him as he bid on expensive cars at auctions. Now, Lexington is fighting for the right to be buried next to her former love.

After his death, O'Quinn was buried in a mausoleum at his ranch in Wimberley. A space next to his casket was saved for Darla. The legal paperwork enshrined a small section of O'Quinn's ranch as his burial site. The rest was sold to the wealthy and well connected LaMantia family.

Everything looked settled until about two years ago.

"What we found was a secret plot to disrespect the cemetery, and take a body without anyone knowing about it," said Lee Thweatt, Lexington's attorney.

Earlier this year, Thweatt filed a lawsuit against George H. Lewis & Sons, the funeral home that transferred O'Quinn's body. This past week, Thweatt added Gerald Treece, O'Quinn executor of the estate to the lawsuit. O'Quinn's foundation and the LaMantia family were also named. The suit alleges all the defendants were part of an elaborate scheme that took O'Quinn's body out of his beloved ranch.

"It may have been a combination of arrogance, of greed, of plain old human spite. We will find out," said Thweatt.

Among the many citations in the 50 page lawsuit was an email sent by Carol O'Quinn, a first cousin, telling those involved in the estate that "Saturday would be a best day for the removal the body as the courts will be closed. This should, ideally, prevent Darla from attempting to obtain a last minute injunction from the court against us removing the body."

The email was sent on October 28th, 2014. Three days later, on a Saturday, November 1st, O'Quinn's body was moved. It was reinterred at a family cemetery in Pollock, Louisiana the following Monday. Reached on the phone, Carol O'Quinn didn't dispute the email.

"I wanted to do what was best for the O'Quinn family, and we were worried that Darla might cause a ruckus," said Carol O'Quinn.

The relatives contend that since Lexington wasn't technically married to O'Quinn, she had no say.

"She was nothing but a live-in girlfriend."

Thweatt says the couple was common-law married. Lexington has said the two called each other husband and wife in public consistently. They want the family, the estate, and everyone related to O'Quinn's legacy to finally recognize Lexington's role in his life. Lexington would like the former portion of the ranch to revert back to a cemetery, and O'Quinn's body returned to Wimberley.

"He wanted to be buried there after his death, she wanted to be by his side, that's why there was a mausoleum," said Thweatt.

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