MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A judge has awarded a Texas man exclusive custody of his abused daughter's body, which has languished in the Milwaukee County morgue for two months amid a dispute with the girl's mother, who is implicated in her death.
Circuit Court Judge David Borowski granted Michael Krouser's request at a hearing Friday, but he criticized Krouser for being absent from his children's lives for years. The judge ordered Krouser to arrange a funeral for his 14-year-old daughter. The Milwaukee County medical examiner's office said the girl's body was released to a Milwaukee funeral home late Friday afternoon.
Amina Krouser's mother, Azlyza Ababneh, is charged with abusing and neglecting her daughter resulting in the girl's death. Ababneh is Muslim and her attorney says that for religious reasons, Ababneh objects to the father's plans to cremate Amina's body and have the ashes sent to his home in San Antonio.
Because Ababneh is not charged with homicide, she retains the right under Wisconsin law to determine how her daughter's remains should be handled.
Michael Krouser, who admitted that since his divorce from Ababneh he had paid little if any child support, asked for exclusive custody of his daughter's remains. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that although the judge called Krouser's behavior as a father "atrocious" and "despicable," he said could not allow the girl's body to remain at the morgue and eventually be turned over to the county to be buried in an unmarked grave.
"That would be a further indignity to this poor child," Borowski said.
According to a criminal complaint, Amina Krouser and her two siblings lived with their mother in a house that had no heat or running water. The teen became ill with cold-like symptoms Nov. 26, and Ababneh believed her daughter was being lazy and beat her with a belt and a plastic pipe, according to the criminal complaint and medical examiner's report. The girl was taken to a hospital and died Dec. 10.
In giving Krouser control of his daughter's body, Borowski did not rule whether it had to be cremated or buried. But he did order Krouser to hold a funeral for her.
"She at least deserves a decent, respectful service," Borowski said.