Frozen sperm is held in limbo during bitter fight over will

September 28, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- William Kane spelled it all out in his will before he killed himself in a Las Vegas hotel suite last year.

His two children would get the 7 1/2 acres of land in Monterey, Calif.

His first cousin would get $30,000.

His girlfriend, Deborah Hecht, would get everything else, most notably a dozen vials of Mr. Kane's frozen sperm on deposit at a Los Angeles sperm bank.

Friends say that Mr. Kane, a brilliant man whose life swirled -- at least in his mind -- with hints of military and diplomatic intrigue, was too tired and depressed to go on living, but nonetheless wanted to have a child with the woman he had lived with for five years.

His instructions were explicit. If she so desired, Ms. Hecht was to be allowed to withdraw the sperm after his death and use it to conceive a child to be named Wyatt Ellen Kane, if a girl, or Joshua Everett Kane, if a boy.

But within weeks of the Malibu man's suicide last October, things started getting complicated -- and nasty.

Mr. Kane's ex-wife, Sandra McMahan Irwin, a Pasadena, Calif., attorney, and the two college-age children she bore by Mr. Kane, contested the will, contending that Mr. Kane was delusional when he wrote it.

Mr. Kane's estate was placed in the hands of a court-appointed administrator, who, upon discovering the existence of the vials of sperm, claimed the sperm as part of the estate pending a court-approved settlement between Ms. Hecht and the two children.

Now, almost a year since the suicide, the two sides have yet to settle and Ms. Hecht, 37, continues to be denied access to the sperm she claims was a final gesture of her lover's devotion to her. She has moved out of the home she shared with Mr. Kane.

"Our position is that they have abused the process for their own gain," said one of Ms. Hecht's attorney's, Marvin Rudnick.

A court-mandated settlement conference is scheduled Oct. 9, but any agreement must be approved not only by the court, but by the sizable pack of creditors attached to the estate, Ms. Irwin said.

Ms. Hecht contends that she has forsaken virtually all of what is rightfully hers so she can obtain the sperm and fulfill Mr. Kane's wish that she try to conceive a child.

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