MINNEAPOLIS - A Minnesota judge overseeing Prince's estate narrowed down the wide pool of potential heirs for the late superstar's fortune on Friday, ruling out nearly 30 claimants while ordering genetic testing for six purported family members.
Carver County Judge Kevin Eide's order requires genetic testing for Prince's sister, Tyka Nelson, plus three half-siblings: Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson and John Nelson. Ken Abdo, the attorney for the three half-siblings declined to comment. Tyka Nelson's attorney did not immediately return a voicemail.
Eide also ordered testing for Brianna Nelson, who has claimed to be Prince's niece, and possible grand-niece Victoria Nelson. The pair has claimed Briana Nelson's father was Prince's half-brother. Their attorney, Andrew Stoltman, declined to comment.
Musician Prince gestures on stage during the Apollo Theatre's 75th anniversary gala in New York in 2009. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
It's unclear why the judge did not order testing for Omar Baker or Alfred Jackson, two men who were listed as half-brothers in the original petition for the court to name a special administrator to the estate, but Eide's order includes a note that the court "is not aware of any objection or dispute" that all six siblings or half-siblings are legitimate heirs.
Jackson's attorney, Justin Bruntjen, declined to comment. An attorney for Baker could not be immediately reached.
Prince died April 21 of a drug overdose. The process of determining his heirs and parceling out his estate has fallen to the courts because he had no known children and left no will. A DNA test has already ruled out a Colorado prison inmate who claimed to be Prince's son.
Left fortune of $300 million or more
Barring any others who could come forward claiming ties, Eide's order drastically limits who may benefit from Prince's fortunes — an estimated $300 million or more — or gain control of his legacy.
Among those excluded from potential heirship in Eide's order are five unidentified people with shaky claims that Prince was their biological father. For example, one woman who said she was adopted claimed Prince was her father because "based upon the general description of the lifestyle of her biological parents, her fascination with the Decedent and physical similarities."
The order also tosses out a handful of claimants who alleged that Prince's father was someone other than John L. Nelson, who is listed in court records as Prince's father.
Among those claimants was Venita Jackson Leverette, whose attorney, James Selmer, called Eide's decision "a travesty" and said he's considering an appeal. Selmer opined that his client would be banned from undergoing testing while a man serving an eight-year prison sentence in Colorado was given a DNA test.
"The better course would be to allow people that have a plausible connection to him to have a blood test," he said.
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