Relatives say bodies were exhumed during excavation for Jamul casino

SAN DIEGO - A lawsuit filed by two Native Americans in San Diego Superior Court alleges the bodies of deceased relatives were exhumed during excavation of a site for an Indian casino in Jamul, a lawyer said Tuesday.

Walter Rosales and Karen Toggery claim the bodies of Rosales' mother, brother and son were exhumed, as were Toggery's mother and son. Each had been buried along with various sacred and cultural artifacts, according to the lawsuit filed against Caltrans.

The lawsuit was brought against the state agency -- the casino is not named as a defendant -- because Caltrans allowed the bodies to be dumped on land it owns in Otay Mesa, along with other material from the excavation, according to attorney Patrick Webb, who represents Rosales and Toggery.

A Caltrans official said the agency could not comment on pending litigation.

The plaintiffs, who are seeking unspecified damages, witnessed the bodies as they were interred on land that has long been a cemetery, according to the lawsuit filed last week.

"The law still respects that people are interred and won't willy-nilly allow them to be dug up and moved," Webb said.

Glenn Revell, president of the Jamul Action Committee, told 10News that Rosales and Toggery were deeply hurt by what has happened.

"The destruction of their home was crippling; you can only imagine how their loved ones' remains have been dug up, taken just this side of Mexico and deposited at the [Interstate] 905 and [state Route] 125 interchange as so much fill dirt, has been a crushing blow. It's an absolutely shameful situation," said Revell.

The land is being graded to make way for the $360 million Hollywood Casino at the Jamul Indian Village, about 20 miles east of downtown San Diego along state Route 94.

The three-story gaming and entertainment facility, which is slated to open next year, will encompass around 200,000 square feet, with more than 1,700 slot machines; 50 live table games, including poker; multiple restaurants, bars and lounges; and an enclosed below-grade parking structure with more than 1,900 spaces.

The development was fought by nearby residents for several years, led by county Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

The county of San Diego sued to stop construction, but a hearing is not scheduled until Aug. 22, according to county lawyer Tom Bunton.

The county lawsuit was filed in San Diego but was transferred to Sacramento and merged with litigation filed by residents of the area, he said.

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