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GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — Attorneys for funeral homes suing a Mississippi coroner say he has acknowledged that he can’t remember ever sending a white person’s body to one of the county’s six black-owned funeral homes.

The federal trial against Harrison County and Coroner Gary Hargrove began Monday in Gulfport with jury selection and opening arguments.

The black-owned funeral homes accuse Hargrove of illegally discriminating against them in favor of two white-owned competitors.

The Sun Herald reports lawyer Rob McDuff tells jurors the case features an official “spending public money based on race.”

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Harrison County attorney Tim Holleman argues that loved ones usually decide where bodies go, and that bodies needing autopsies are sent to homes with enough freezer capacity for long-term storage. Some black-owned funeral homes say they have these freezers.


Information from: The Sun Herald,