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Ohio family sues state over wrongful death at convict's hands

The murder of an Ohio State psychology major at the hands of a previously convicted sex offender and the subsequent trial captured the attention of most of the state in 2017.

Now, the young woman's parents have initiated a lawsuit for her wrongful death. They say the state failed to correctly monitor the man convicted of her death while he was in a pre-release residential facility after his previous conviction for attempted rape.

The man who kidnapped the young student as she headed home from work, then raped and killed her, had recently gained release from prison after serving six years for his earlier offenses. He was openly considered a "high-risk offender," meaning that he was likely to re-offend. In addition, he was living in a state-run facility and required to wear an ankle monitor that was designed to track his whereabouts.

For some reason, the monitor's wasn't being watched by anyone. It seems the convict likely knew that fact -- because he certainly didn't let its presence stop him from a rash of violent acts, including robbery and assault, prior to his abduction of the young student.

He picked the young woman at random, forcing her to take money out of her bank account from an ATM before he raped and shot her as she begged for her life. Data from the ankle monitor clearly placed the convict at the various crime scenes and led to his conviction.

The lawsuit blames the state's Department of Rehabilitation and the company it hired to operate its residential home for their shoddy practices regarding the ankle monitoring devices. Had the devices been used to actually monitor wearers, the police could have arrested the convict for at least three different crimes prior to the student's kidnapping and murder.

The murder prompted an overhaul of state sentencing laws. Judges can now impose indefinite sentences against certain convicts who are likely to re-offend. There's still no law, however, requiring companies who provide ankle monitors to actually monitor them.

Anyone who feels like the loss of a loved one was preventable and the result of someone's negligent actions should consider all their legal options without delay. That's often the only effective way of encouraging reforms.

Source: The Blade, "Tokes family sues state, claims negligence resulted in Reagan's death," Jim Provance, May 18, 2018

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