The judge hearing a lawsuit over the estate of Wayne Breen, the Covington doctor shot dead by his wife in March, declined a request from Breen’s children to invalidate his will on Thursday.
But Judge Scott Gardner did agree to appoint a third-party administrator for the estate, something both sides in the case had called for.
The lawsuit pits Wayne Breen’s adult children from his first wife against Kacie Breen, who shot him during what she has described as a heated argument on March 1.
The will in question would ultimately put Kacie Breen in charge of managing the estate, but the children wanted the document invalidated.
Thursday’s hearing centered on whether Wayne Breen’s will had been properly executed when he signed it in September 2013. Attorneys for his children argued that no witness ever saw Breen sign it. Lakeitha Cole, who worked for Breen at his medical practice, testified Thursday that she had been called into Breen’s office and told to sign the final page of the document, but that she had never seen Breen put his own signature on it. Another witness, Jame Kentzel, testified that she couldn’t remember anything about the signing.
In rebuttal, Richard Ducote, who represents Kacie Breen, called Sandra Terrell, an attorney and notary who prepared the will. She testified that the witnesses had been there for the entire signing.
After a brief recess, Gardner returned to the courtroom and sided with Ducote. The judge said it was up to those contesting the will to prove that it had not been properly executed, and he did not think they cleared that bar.
One of the attorneys for Breen’s children, Rene Frederick, said they respected Gardner’s decision but would confer with their clients on whether to appeal.
The question of whether to appoint a third party to oversee the estate, something initially requested by the children, did not turn into a fight.
Ducote said Thursday that Kacie Breen was focused on taking care of her young son and getting her own life back together and did not have time to manage the estate’s holdings, which include property in St. Tammany and Lafayette parishes, as well as the couple’s Folsom-area home.
The judge plans to choose an administrator for the estate from a list of candidates recommended by both parties.
Kacie Breen was Wayne’s second wife, and the couple had one child. But with his first wife, Wayne Breen had five children, all of whom have been involved in the litigation over the estate. The affair has attracted a veritable armada of attorneys: At least eight were present for the hearing, though not all were directly involved in the arguments.
With Gardner’s decision, legal attention will turn to the wrongful-death suit filed by one of Breen’s grown sons. Frederick said Thursday that three of the four other grown Breen children will join as plaintiffs in that suit Friday.
Ducote’s filings in the wrongful-death case have painted a troubled picture of Wayne Breen, accusing him of growing increasingly angry as stories that he had told about experiences in Vietnam were proving false. Kacie Breen said it was one of these rages that led to the fatal shooting.
In addition, a criminal investigation into the case is ongoing, though Kacie Breen has not been arrested. Evidence in that case is still being collected and analyzed, a spokesman for St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain said Wednesday.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.