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Friday, August 27, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Janie Hendrix denies scheme in inheritance

Seattle Times staff reporter

As a young girl, Janie Hendrix's job was to keep house in the home of her adoptive father, Al Hendrix.

That meant she had to clean the baseboards, the windows, the carpets, the laundry and do the prep work for dinner.

"That was my job," said Janie Hendrix when she took the stand in the final days of a two-month civil trial over the estate of rock legend Jimi Hendrix. "I had to do everything for my parents."

Janie — who inherited the bulk of the Hendrix estate when Al Hendrix died two years ago — is being sued by Jimi's brother, Leon Hendrix, Leon's children and seven other members of the Hendrix family over the $80 million estate.

Leon and his children claim Janie schemed for years to have Leon cut from Al Hendrix's will and ultimately exploited his dependence on her and his legal naiveté to get her way.

In a separate but related lawsuit, Janie and cousin Bob Hendrix are accused of mismanaging the estate and siphoning off the money for themselves.

Janie's lawyers contend that Al Hendrix cut Leon from the will intentionally when he grew tired of Leon's chronic, addiction-fueled requests for money. And they say Janie and Bob's competent management is responsible for the estate's good health.

During her time on the stand this week, Janie described how hard she had worked to help her father win back the legal rights to Jimi's music that had been taken from Al Hendrix by an attorney.

She read legal documents for as much as 10 hours a day for a period that stretched over two years, she said.

She also talked about her early years, her mother's marriage to Al and their home in a 1,000-square-foot basement apartment on Queen Anne. She described her mother's dislike of Leon and her oft-voiced opinion that Al was not Leon's biological father.

Janie said Leon's paternity didn't seem to matter to Al.

"Just because you didn't have the same blood, doesn't mean he loved you any less," she said. Janie testified that she had never spoken to her father about his will or a desire to have Leon disinherited.

She said a handful of witnesses — including entertainment lawyer Yale Lewis, a Hendrix biographer whom she'd hired, and several family friends — were either lying or mistaken when they testified to conversations they'd had with her.

"Yale Lewis said under oath you'd told him you were Al's biological child and that you even showed a birth certificate," said Leon's attorney Robert Curran. "Are you saying that never happened?"

"That is my testimony," Janie said.

She also denied telling biographer Jas Obrecht to ask Al about Leon's real father. She denied telling Bob Hendrix that Al wanted Leon out of the will. And she denied that she'd ever said to her father, "Why are you giving him money? He's not even your real son," as a friend of the family had testified early in the bench trial.

In closing arguments, which began yesterday afternoon and will continue today, plaintiff's attorney Curran produced a timeline that he said showed Janie's pattern of trying to consolidate power for herself and estrange Leon from the family and the family money.

Janie's attorney, as well as counsel for the beneficiaries and Leon's children, are scheduled to give their closing arguments this afternoon and the judge is expected to make a decision early next month.

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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