Attorneys questioned Alona MacGregor for three hours Monday, focusing on the abuse her daughter Kareena says she experienced as a teen, as well as Alona’s contact with the mortuary that the family says cremated the remains of Kareena’s baby without their consent. Kareena is currently suing six defendants in civil court for emotional distress relating to the alleged sexual abuse, a subsequent murder charge and the cremation of her baby.
At age 15, Kareena MacGregor gave birth to a stillborn baby boy in her basement. No one, including Kareena, knew that she had become pregnant. Kareena was tried and convicted of murdering her child, but the Utah Supreme Court dismissed her guilty plea after a long legal struggle. While she was on trial, Holbrook Funeral home cremated the remains of the baby without her consent, negating any chance to mourn or have a second autopsy. Kareena was the subject of a 2009 City Weekly cover story called "Hear My Plea."
Ten years later, Kareena has filed a civil suit against a laundry list of defendants whom she feels have betrayed her and contributed to her emotional distress. Kareena says that from the time she was 11 to 15 years old, she was sexually abused by a group of teenage boys from her neighborhood, two of whom are the sons of Paul Jaroscak, a senior police officer. Kareena is now facing her alleged abusers, Matt and David Jaroscak, as well as their parents, Deborah and Paul Jaroscak; Holbook Funeral Chapel; and Smith—the baby's father, who may be dismissed from the case since he is currently incarcerated on unrelated charges.
Judge Fuchs presided over the trial, which began Monday. Kareena’s attorney, Peter D. Goodall, provided background about Kareena’s experiences as a teen by asking Alona to recount incidents of Kareena’s abuse.
Alona told the court she reported Kareena’s first account of abuse by Matt Jaroscak to the police department in November 1999, when Kareen was 11. During questioning, Jaroscak’s attorney pointed out that Alona said she never followed up with the police department because she believed she had done her part and “it had been taken care of.”
Alona also recounted an incident where she had met with Kareena’s school counselor because Kareena had written a suicide note in December 1999. The Jaroscak’s defense attorney pointed out that the note stated, “I hate Matt, I hate everybody.” The defense attorney noted that the letter said, “Tell Matt I love him,” and stated the note was ambivalent. Alona then pointed out the 12-year-old’s note had initials scrawled across the top that stood for “I had sex with Matt Jaroscak and I’m pregnant with his baby.”
Alona shared with the court that she took Kareena to their family practitioner in February 2000 as a response to the incident, but said that she did not ask the school counselor or the doctor to report the incidents. Alona stated she “trusted the system” and thought the other parties would follow through with their responsibilities.
In Alona’s testimony regarding the remains of Baby Boy MacGregor, she said the Holbrook funeral home had cremated the baby’s remains without consent from the MacGregor family and with the knowledge that she was seeking a second autopsy of the child as part of Kareena’s murder trial. Alona said she spoke with John Holbrook, owner of Holbrook Funeral Chapel, and informed him that she needed the remains preserved because of her intension to pursue a second autopsy since she believed the first had been flawed.
She testified that the court had ordered the remains to be removed from the medical examiner’s office by Feb. 18. She stated that since the body was evidence in a murder trial, she had to have it transported through Holbrook Funeral Chapel Inc. Even though she had never made arrangements for a cremation or an internment, Kareena’s attorney at the time informed Alona that the remains had been cremated in March 2003, she said.
Goodall asked Alona how Kareena reacted when she discovered the state of the remains. Alona stated Kareena took a gun, ran out into the street and pointed it at her chest, repeating, “It’s over, they’ve won.”
Joseph E. Minnock, representing Holbrook Funeral Chapel Inc., asked Alona whether she had provided a letter to Holbrook Funeral Chapel or the courts with her intent to seek a second autopsy. Alona responded that her communication with Holbrook Funeral Chapel Inc. had been verbal. However, she stated Kareena’s attorney at the time of the murder trial had issued a letter to the courts noting intent to pursue a second autopsy. The letter has not been recovered for this trial.
Each attorney raised questions regarding Alona’s contact numbers during the period from October 2002 to April 2003, when arrangements for the body were being made. She responded to each attorney’s questions stating she had provided Holbrook Funeral Chapel with at least three different contact numbers that were in service during the months of October 2002 to April 2003.
When Minnock questioned Alona about a previous deposition, she confirmed that she had heard staff personnel from Holbrook Funeral Chapel Inc. state during legal proceedings that the numbers they had been provided were disconnected in October 2002.
Minnock then asked Alona if she had any phone records to prove her numbers were current. Alona responded, “No, I didn’t know I needed them. Who keeps their phone records for five years?” She continually stated that she would not have provided Holbrook Funeral Chapel Inc. with phone numbers that were not current, and that she was required, by law, to have a functioning phone line during those months because Kareena was on a court-ordered ankle monitor that must be plugged into a land line to track a subject's location.
Since there are no records to prove whether Alona’s phone numbers were functioning during the time of the dispute, the jury will have to decide on testimony alone whether Holbrook Funeral Chapel Inc. is guilty of causing Kareena emotional distress for the allegedly unauthorized cremation of "baby boy" MacGregor’s remains.
The trial is scheduled to run through May 2.