State Agency ordered to pay $1.5 Million to victim's family
(KATV) UPDATE: The Clark family attorney confirms a ruling came down December 19 from the Arkansas State Claims Commission for $1.5 million dollars.
Attorney David H. Williams says the award amount is "conservative and reasonable". He says the Division of Youth Services (DYS) needs to jump at the chance to pay it and not risk the legislature approving more money.
No word on if DYS will appeal the ruling.
December 13, 2012:
(KATV) In 2009 a 67-year old man was killed during a home robbery. The four suspects, all teenagers, were caught and remain behind bars. But the family of the victim says their father would still be here if the shooter, then 16 year old, Antonio Terry was not released from the state division of youth services.
Antonio Terry had been in and out of the Division of Youth Services (DYS) several times, it's a juvenile detention center. Weeks before the murder, he was released despite objections by staff.
DYS is under the Department of Human Services (DHS) and because a state agency can't legally be sued, the Claims Commission is hearing the case.
DYS has been found liable for the death by the Arkansas State Claims Commission. Thursday, the Commission heard reasons why and why not to award the family compensation for their pain and suffering.
June 2009, 67-year old Maurice Clark was home alone when teenagers made their way in his home, reportedly beat, drug him through the house and left with stolen items. But Antonio Terry returned and shot Cark in the head.
That brings us to the hearing Thursday, December 13, 2012. Cameras were not allowed to record audio.
An attorney representing DYS argued a fair amount to pay the family is $200,000. She stated the family has normal grief and has not sought professional help. With first responders statements from the crime scene, she predicts the victim, did not suffer long because there was brain matter at the scene.
"All they had to do was keep this kid in the Alexander unit." Attorney for the Clark family, David Williams says they're seeking damages in four specific areas:
1. Funeral expenses
2. Mental anguish
3. Victim's pain and suffering
4. Loss of life. (Life expectancy another 16 years)
The defense argues, paying out 1 to 5-million dollars would come directly from DYS operating budget, meaning reduced beds and services. Williams says, "Here they made a decision that the bed space for Antonio Terry was more important to them than the life of an innocent citizen that would die at his hands and that's crazy."
The defense says there is minimal suffering evidence for a six figure damages claim. Especially since Clark placed his life value at $75,000 in an insurance policy and that the suspect never harmed an individual before.
Williams says, "In this case we had paid professionals saying this guy is dangerous." He continues, "Counselors warned he was dangerous, he made threat that if he had a gun he would blow somebody's head off two weeks before he killed Mr. Clark and did exactly that."
Williams says the money is not going to bring Maurice back but, "It might make DYS be more responsible and accountable."
The commission says a decision will be made in the immediate future.
Stay with katv.com and Channel Seven for the latest developments as they become available.
Antonio Terry avoided a possible life sentence with the plea agreement, he was sentenced to 65 years in prison. Prosecutors reduced the charge from capital murder to first degree murder.
Marshuan Kendrick, Thomas Caffery and Craig woods all pleaded guilty for their roles and said Terry pulled the trigger.
A DHS spokesperson says changes have been made. She says there is now a database for teams to make notes for others to view if they agree/disagree with the decision to release a juvenile.