Sometimes I think that if you just leave a problem alone, it will work itself out.

Take the case of Tri-State Crematory operator Ray Brent Marsh. The civil trial, accusing Marsh of dumping dead bodies on the crematory grounds, began late last week. A lawsuit was filed on behalf of some 1,600 relatives of deceased persons whose remains were said to have been improperly disposed. According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit claims breach of contract, negligence and intentional mishandling of a corpse.

Marsh is accused of dumping 334 bodies and passing off cement dust as ashes. He is said to have ceased cremating bodies in 1997. The 334 bodies were found in 2002.

Marsh's lawyer, Frank Jenkins, claimed that the police investigation was sloppy and that the authorities rushed to judgment, saying that Marsh was responsible. He then brought the media into the defense claiming that the resulting frenzy caused hundreds of family members to conclude that Marsh did not cremate their relatives, when in fact, he did.

Jenkins went on to explain how the cement dust got mixed up with the ashes. He claimed that the bottom of the crematory machine was made from a type of cement "that could have gotten mixed with the ashes" when the cremation process was finished.

I wonder if counselor Jenkins said all of this with a straight face, for the AP article pointed out that the one thing Jenkins did not do was explain all of the dead bodies stored around the crematory property.

In her opening statement, prosecutor Kathryn Barnett said that Marsh should be punished for engaging in the culture of "disrespect for the dead that stretched from father to son."

My question is what would the prosecution suggest as punishment. More jail time isn't an option since this is a civil trial. So what monetary figure do you put on the ill treatment of a dead body? What's it worth to the surviving family members? Certainly they are entitled to at least a refund for services not performed. But there couldn't be any punitive damages. I mean, there was not any pain or suffering or mental anguish endured. And besides, how could Ray Brent ever hope to financially satisfy 1,600 people?

But you know that the family members deserve something, some sort of retribution or compensation for being fleeced not only financially, but emotionally as well.

Here's where I come back to my original statement. This is a problem that could very well work itself out all by itself. Just let Ray Brent go. That's right, just let him walk out of that courthouse a free man. Oh, there should be an announcement of the exact day, hour and even minute when Marsh will appear on the streets of Noble, unescorted and unprotected. Think of the money, time and effort that will be saved.

Now, I'm not suggesting that anything improper happen to Marsh, just an opportunity for him to face his accusers/former customers and answer any questions they might have. I think that's fair, compared to what he did to their family members.

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