A Ventura County Superior Court judge ruled Monday that the widow of a Malibu millionaire killed last fall during a drug raid was the dead man's legal wife.
Judge Melinda A. Johnson determined that Frances Plante's marriage in July to reclusive Ventura County ranch owner Donald P. Scott was legal, according to the judge's secretary. The written ruling will be released today.
Lawyers for other heirs to Scott's fortune had challenged Plante's marriage, claiming that it was invalid because the ceremony was in Ventura County while the license was issued by Los Angeles County.
But Johnson apparently agreed with Plante's attorney, who argued at a hearing last week that the marriage was valid in spite of apparent technical violations.
Scott, 61, the heir to a Europe-based chemicals fortune, was killed in October when Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies shot him twice while serving a search warrant on his Ventura County ranch. No drugs were found in the raid.
After the shooting, attorneys for Scott's ex-wife, Karen Scott, and their three children challenged Plante's 2 1/2-month marriage to Scott. They hoped to keep his widow from getting one-third of the rancher's estate, estimated at more than $5 million.
Johnson also ruled that Nicholas Gutsue should be the sole executor of the estate. Plante had asked for a co-executor to be appointed because of disputes she had with Gutsue.
In addition to Scott's ranch, which he valued at a minimum of $5 million, Gutsue said the recluse had stock accounts in New York and Australia, and bank accounts and trust funds in New York and Switzerland.
Ventura County Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury has said he expects to complete his inquiry into Scott's shooting and the circumstances surrounding the drug raid within two weeks.