Philadelphia

Judge Continues Trial of Man Accused of Running Unlicensed Funeral Home

A man accused of running an unlicensed funeral home in West Philadelphia where police found decomposing bodies will face trial in October, a judge decided on Monday.

Blair Hawkins, 53, would have faced trial beginning on Monday, but the District Attorney's Office requested the continuance, as one of their witnesses was unavailable, according to court documents. The judge agreed to reschedule the trial to Oct. 3.

Police arrested Hawkins, of Laurel Springs, NJ, last year after they found three bodies not properly stored in Hawkins Funeral Service, on the 5300 block of Vine Street. One of the bodies was embalmed in a coffin in a non-ventilated room and two others were decomposing, authorities said at the time. Investigators also discovered two unmarked, non-medical bags of human organs inside the building.

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Hawkins at the time told NBC10 that the state investigation that found the questionable conditions, sparked by a tip from the public, was all a result of a misunderstanding.

"The bodies, we have paperwork," Hawkins told NBC10. "They're gonna be cremated. They're authorized. We don't refrigerate bodies that are being cremated."

Hawkins faces three counts of abuse of corpse charges.

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