From: Santa Cruz Sentinel
By Stephen Baxter 3/10/14
SANTA CRUZ — Half of a $556,000 memorial fund for the families of two fallen Santa Cruz police detectives could be released to the family of detective Elizabeth Butler in coming weeks.
How to divide the remainder amongst the family of Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker would go to mediation under a proposal from the Santa Cruz Police Officers Association.
The money was collected from hundreds of donors in Santa Cruz and elsewhere after Butler and Baker were killed on duty on Feb. 26, 2013.
The Santa Cruz Police Officers Association and its attorney are handling the fund, which is no longer accepting donations “given the contested nature of these proceedings,” said Peter Hoffman, the association’s attorney at Pleasant Hill-based Rains Lucia Stern PC.
The initial proposal was to divide the money evenly between the Baker and Butler families. Then, each family’s portion would be split into 50 percent for the surviving spouse or partner with the rest distributed evenly among the children within that family.
Letters that described that proposed distribution were sent in late January. They were mailed to Butler’s domestic partner, Peter Wu; Baker’s wife, Kelly Baker; and Baker’s adult children, Adam Baker, Jillian Baker and Ashley Baker.
Wu is acting on behalf of the two sons he has with Butler, ages 3 and 6.
Everyone agreed to the first plan and returned a signed document — except 25-year-old Ashley Baker, attorneys said.
Through a letter from her attorney, Ashley recently proposed that the Police Officers Association distribute half of the money to Butler’s family. Ashley Baker said Monday that she wants the POA to provide a public accounting of the money collected before she agrees to the distribution.
“This is for my family, not just myself,” she said. “They deserve to see the accounting themselves.”
The second round of letters was sent earlier this month. Ashley Baker said she has not received the letter because she is out of town. The deadline to sign is Friday.
“We’re optimistic that they will receive their part of the fund,” Hoffman said of Butler’s family.
Separately, Hoffman said he wants Baker family members to agree to settle the matter with mediation rather than putting it before a judge.
A separate letter that describes mediation is expected to be sent to the fund’s recipients. The mediator likely would be a retired judge, Hoffman said.
“Hopefully all the Baker parties will agree on mediation so we can avoid any formal legal proceedings,” Hoffman said. “That’s the last place that the POA wants to go with this.”
If they do not agree to mediation, the facts of the case would be presented to a Santa Cruz County Superior Court judge to make a ruling.