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Washington DOC/King County Settles Negligent Supervision Case for $3.1 Million

Washington DOC/King County Settles Negligent
Supervision Case for $3.1 Million

On March 9, 2003, the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) and King County agreed to pay $3.1 million to the family of a woman who was brutally raped and murdered by a man on community supervision. The case is the most recent in a series of multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements stemming from DOC's inability to properly monitor ex-convicts in the community. PLN has reported extensively on this topic.

On the afternoon of April 15, 2000, Shirley Tuthill drove to her daughter Deborah Funk's Federal Way apartment to spend the day doing spring cleaning. Upon entering the apartment, she discovered Deborah's nude and battered body in the bedroom. Blood and excrement covered the walls and bed. Deborah, a 40-year-old mother of three, had been savagely raped and beaten to death.

Roy Elexis Webbe was arrested for the murder on April 26, 2000. He was subsequently convicted of the crime and sentenced to prison for life without the possibility of release. At the time of the homicide, he was on community supervision for convictions of rape and assault. Webbe's conditions of supervision required him to register as a sex offender, obtain chemical dependency treatment, and receive a mental health evaluation and participate in any recommended therapy.

While on supervision, Webbe continually violated the terms of his supervision by failing to register as a sex offender, provide a valid address, or participate in drug and mental health treatment. He also tested positive for narcotics on at least three occasions. The DOC and King County, however, failed to report Webbe's violations to the sentencing judge or request a warrant for his arrest.

Deborah's family filed suit against the DOC and King County in the Pierce County Superior Court, alleging wrongful death, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and loss of consortium. One week before trial, King County agreed to settle the claims against it for $500,000. The DOC settled the case for $2.6 million after five days of trial.

Deborah's family was represented by attorneys Jack Connelly and Darrell Cochran of the Tacoma law firm Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell, Malanca, Peterson & Daheim. The firm has had great success suing the DOC for its failure to properly monitor offenders in the community. See: Funk v. Washington DOC, Pierce County Superior Court Case No. 01-2-12381-1.

Additional sources: Jury Verdicts Northwast; Seattle Times

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Related legal case

Funk v. Washington DOC