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Senate Bill 524 hardens ‘abuse of corpse' charge

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Senate Bill 524 changes how criminals will be charged with ‘abuse of corpse’ from a class a misdemeanor to a state felony.

Earlier in May, the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office says Tanya Albrecht and Adam Crow unknowingly stole a suburban acting like a hearse and dumped the body on the side of the road.

Both were charged with unauthorized use of the stolen motor vehicle. Albrecht got an added charge for abuse of a corpse for dumping the body

“That type of thing doesn't happen very often so when it did, it made big news, " Sheriff Chris Kirk said.

The change was sparked by Felicia Braxton’s case in Fort Worth.

In 2014 when her mother died, Johnson Family Mortuary promised Felicia her mother's ashes. She received the ashes, but it turned out they weren't her mothers. For years, she didn't know where her mother’s ashes were.

That's when she acted to change how mortuaries would be penalized.

“When we had an avenue to get on that justice wagon, that's what we did,” Braxton said.

She eventually was reconnected with her mother's ashes, but back here in Brazos County, this revision didn’t surprise Sheriff Kirk.

“It didn't run into a lot of opposition because we all feel so strongly how our love ones would be treated after death,” Sheriff Kirk said.

Justice for families like Felicia, who already lost so much.

“I’m looking forward doing things now after getting out of that dark place,” Braxton said.

The new law will take in effect September 1, 2017.

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