SAN JOSE - A man insisting he is the biological father of teen suicide victim Audrie Pott will be in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose on Thursday morning to argue why he should be included in a wrongful death lawsuit as her legal heir.
Michael Lazarin has stated in court papers that as the biological father of the late teen, he has standing to join a lawsuit filed by her parents Sheila and Lawrence Pott, who claim to be her sole legal heirs in their lawsuit filed after Audrie's suicide.
"I am the biological father, period," Lazarin said in an interview.
Audrie, a 15-year-old student at Saratoga High School, hanged herself at her mother's Los Altos home on Sept. 10, 2012, and died in a hospital after being taken off life support two days later.
Her suicide attempt came eight days after a Labor Day weekend party with other teens at a friend's home in Saratoga, where she passed out after drinking alcohol.
While she slept in a bedroom, three male teen classmates removed some of her clothes, used a felt pen to draw on her body, took photos of her and sexually abused her, according to the Potts in their lawsuit filed on April 15, 2013.
Last fall, after pleading guilty to sexual assault in juvenile court, two of the boys were sentenced to 30 days in juvenile jail, which they served on weekends, and a third was sentenced to 45 consecutive days.
Sheila and Lawrence Pott, who are now divorced, included as defendants in their suit the boys' parents and those of an unnamed teenage girl who they allege watched what the boys did to Audrie and then lied about it to sheriff's deputies investigating her death.
The Potts' attorney Robert Allard, in opposing Lazarin's entry into the suit, has argued that Family Court Judge Dolores Carr ruled in 2005 that Lazarin had failed to prove he was her legal father because he did not take her into his home to live with him for the first two years of her life.
Carr declared that Sheila and Lawrence were Audrie's legal parents and denied Lazarin's claim of paternity.
But Lazarin, 46, insists Carr unjustly denied his parental rights and that he is willing to take a DNA test to prove he fathered Audrie.
"A DNA test, if administered, would establish beyond a reasonable doubt that I am Audrie's natural father," he stated in the suit.
Lazarin also argued that he is legally entitled to join the Potts' case as an heir to Audrie's estate under probate law, separate from the earlier family law case.
He cited a probate code that states, "The relationship of parent and child exists between a person and the person's natural parents, regardless of the marital status of the natural parents."
Lazarin used as exhibits in his case family photos of him, Sheila, Audrie and other Lazarin family members taken up to December 2003, when Audrie was 6 and when Lazarin and Sheila broke up.
He also included a copy of Audrie's death certificate issued by the Santa Clara County medical examiner's office that described her father as "Mexican," which Lazarin says is his ethnicity and not that of Lawrence Pott.
Lazarin said that he wanted to become part of the Potts' suit not to collect money, but "to reveal all of the truth of what my daughter had to endure" prior to her tragic suicide.
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