Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Etta James, best known for her iconic recording of “At Last,” has dementia, an organic brain syndrome, and leukemia. She now requires around-the-clock medical care and supervision in her Woodcrest home.
As she battles her illnesses, her family argues over her money. Her husband, Artis Mills, is trying to gain control over approximately $1 million of Etta’s money. He is also challenging Etta’s 2008 documents granting powers of attorney to her sons, Donto and Sametto James, and Donto’s wife, Christy. At a hearing on Friday, January 14, Mills argued that Etta was not of sound mind at the time she executed these documents, but Sametto said that she was mentally sharp at the time and was even on tour across the country until 2009. Donto, who is not Mills’ son, has no problem with the money being released for Etta’s health care, but he wants the money to be overseen by an independent administrator to avoid family conflict. All parties claim that their only concern is that Etta receives proper medical care.
At the Friday hearing, Judge Cahraman postposed the case until February 24, but ordered that $60,000 be released to Mills so that he could take care of his wife. According to Mills, this will cover approximately two months of medical care for Etta.
See Vanessa Franko, Etta James Ill, Family Battles Over Money, The Press-Enterprise, Jan. 13, 2011; Phil Willon, Etta James’ Husband, Sons Battle Over Money for Her Care, LA Times, Jan. 15, 2011.