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Maryland Pays $700,000 to Settle Suit Over Murder Committed by Parolee in Colorado

In May 2002, the State of Maryland agreed to pay $700,000 to a Denver woman whose daughter was murdered by a parolee released from a Maryland prison and sent to a drug treatment center in Colorado.

The suit, which was brought following the February 1999 slaying of 24-year-old Peyton Tuthill, was settled in early May when the Maryland attorney general agreed to the payment.

Tuthill was raped and killed by Donta Paige, who had been convicted of armed robbery in the State of Maryland and sentenced 10 years. But after serving only two years and 47 days, a Maryland judge suspended the remainder of Paige's sentence and released him from a Hagerstown prison on the condition that he attend a drug treatment center in Colorado. Paige's mother then sent him by bus to the Stout Street Foundation, a drug treatment program in Denver. However, no one ever informed Colorado authorities that Paige was on his way, as required by law.

After only four days at the Denver facility, Paige was kicked out of the treatment program. Tuthill was killed the very next day. Paige left the treatment facility, walked two blocks to Tuthill's residence, and decided to burglarize it. He admitted robbing and raping Tuthill, including stabbing her six times in the chest and neck.

The lawsuit, brought by Tuthill's mother Patricia Tuthill, alleged that Maryland, "in complete violation of the interstate compact, failed to contact any Colorado law enforcement authorities, failed to give them the required 90-day notice and opportunity to investigate [Paige], and failed to provide them all the reports they were supposed to," said Peter Grenier, the Washington, D.C. attorney who represented Tuthill.

The victim's mother brought her case in Denver District Court, which was based entirely on the fact that Maryland authorities violated the Interstate Compact for the Supervision of Parolees and Probationers by failing to notify Colorado in advance of their intent to send Paige to that state.

Following her daughter's death, Patricia Tuthill quit her job to work full time as a victim's rights advocate. She said she plans to use the settlement money to fund her activities.

In Maryland, this case prompted officials there to review each and every one of its 89,000 interstate compact cases to ensure compliance with the law. In addition, a new compact, which is said to be more comprehensive, enforceable and accountable, has been ratified by 31 of the necessary 35 states.

"This is what I wanted from the start," Tuthill said. "It's been very overwhelming for me." For raping and killing Peyton Tuthill, Paige was sentenced to life without parole in a Colorado prison.

Sources: The Baltimore Sun, Denver Post

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