ATLANTA -- A legal battle over the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s traveling Bible and 1964 Nobel Peace Prize is headed for court-ordered mediation.
King's estate, which is controlled by his sons, last year asked a judge to order their sister to surrender the items. In a board of directors meeting last year, Martin Luther King III and Dexter Scott King voted 2-1 against Bernice King to sell the two artifacts to a private buyer.
The two sides on Wednesday told Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney they are close to an agreement but not quite there.
A lawyer for Bernice King asked the judge to order mediation, and the estate's lawyer did not oppose that.
McBurney said he would issue an order outlining the terms for mediation early next week. He wants the parties to agree on a mediator or to submit names from which he can choose by June 30 and for mediation to be complete by Sept. 30, he said.
Both items had long been in Bernice's possession, and lawyers for the estate filed a lawsuit just over a week later asking a judge to order Bernice to surrender both items.
Speaking from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where her father and grandfather preached, Bernice in February 2014 denounced her brother's intentions, saying the Bible and peace prize medal were among their father's most cherished possessions and shouldn't be sold.
Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. His widow, Coretta Scott King, died in 2006. Yolanda King, the Kings' eldest child, died in 2007.
A letter written by President Lyndon Johnson to Coretta Scott King the day after the civil rights leader was assassinated hit the auction block in March after a long legal battle. It sold for $60,000, according to Reuters.
The case was set to go to trial in February, but Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney in late January temporarily halted all action at the parties' request to allow them time to settle. The judge ordered the parties to appear before him in late March if they hadn't reached an agreement by then. He later extended that deadline to Wednesday.