Judge: Mother of Terence Crutcher's children was not his common-law wife
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- A Tulsa County District Court judge ruled Monday that Frenchel Johnson, the mother of Terence Crutcher's children, was not his common-law wife and has no claim to his estate.
Crutcher, 40, was shot and killed by a Tulsa police officer in September. His heirs could benefit from a civil trial against the City of Tulsa and the Tulsa Police Department.
Also at stake was a $168,000 GoFundMe account created after the father of four died.
Despite listing herself as single in tax returns and using her own name in 20 years of criminal records, Johnson, the mother of three of Crutcher's children, testified that she and Crutcher lived together as husband and wife for 16 years before he died. She even showed the court a ring Crutcher gave her in 2012.
"We were married," said Johnson. "We just didn't walk down the aisle."
But Crutcher's family and friends said otherwise. His father, Rev. Joey Crutcher, said he purchased the ring because he wanted the two to wed. Crutcher's twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, said her brother dated other women and never intended to marry Johnson.
Ultimately, the judge said Crutcher and Johnson were not in a common-law marriage and named Crutcher's children his heirs.
The judge said Johnson and Crutcher used different addresses, the utilities and lease were in her name alone, the couple had separate bank accounts and he referred to himself as single. Additionally, the judge said Johnson received certain benefits that would not have been afforded her if she was married.
"We're very happy and pleased with his decision," said Damario Solomon-Simmons, family friend and attorney to the Crutcher family. "So we can move forward, the family can move forward."
The judge also said Crutcher's sister could not be in charge of the estate, saying she took assets from the estate and deposited them into her personal account.
"No one took anything from Terence Crutcher's estate," said Solomon-Simmons. "No one wanted to, no one wanted to, and no one was thinking about that."
Johnson's attorney, Dan Smolen, released the following statement hours after the ruling:
We appreciate Judge Glassco's findings that: (A) Terence Crutcher and Frenchel Johnson were in a "long-term (14 plus year) relationship"; (B) their three (3) children togehter are Terence's "heirs at law"; and (C) neighbors and other observers viewed Terence, Frenchel and their children as a family.
At the same time, we are disappointed with the Court's ruling that Frenchel was not Terence's common-law spouse. This has been a trying and emotional process for Frenchel, who is still mourning Terence's death. In the coming days, we will be weighing Frenchel's options going forward.
The estate will remain under control of a third-party administrator until his children reach adult age.
Read more about the Crutcher case in our special section.