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Operator of Crematory Says He’s Broke

November 18, 2003

LAFAYETTE, Ga. (AP) _ The former operator of a crematory where more than 300 corpses were discovered last year said Tuesday that he has no money and needs the government to pay for experts in his case.

Ray Brent Marsh, 30, said he has not worked since he was arrested in February 2002 after investigators found decaying bodies that were supposed to have been cremated at the family business.

``I don’t even carry a wallet because there is nothing to put in it,″ said Marsh, who already has paid his lawyer $40,000.

Superior Court Judge James Bodiford said he will make a decision about indigent status after a court official reviews Marsh’s finances.

Marsh also has requested a change of venue for his upcoming trial, saying he’s received death threats.

Defense attorney Ken Poston said keeping the trial in Walker County would be unsafe for his client and possibly for himself. The trial also should be held away from heavy media coverage in Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn., Poston said.

Prosecutor Herbert ``Buzz″ Franklin said Monday the threats were not sufficient for a change of venue, but he would agree to picking a jury from outside the county.

Bodiford plans to decide within two weeks on the request. A trial date has not been set.

Marsh pleaded innocent to 179 counts of abuse of a body and 47 counts of making false statements. He withheld pleas on burial service fraud and theft, and remains free on house arrest bond.

When investigators first searched the crematory property on Feb. 15, 2002, they found bodies spilling out of a storage shed and scattered around the crematory building and surrounding woods.

Marsh is charged in Tennessee with abuse of a corpse. He is accused of transporting bodies to the crematory and returning to Tennessee funeral homes what were purported to be cremated human remains. Forensics investigators have said some of the urns contained cement dust, dirt or unidentified cremated human remains.

Hundreds of people also are suing Marsh for failing to perform cremations.

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