In August of 2006, Hagens Berman filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Utah families following tragic and egregious oversight by the Washington State Department of Corrections that led to a released inmate committing rape, robbery, murder, burglary and more, leaving the lives of two women and their families’ lives forever changed.
Richard Wilson had a criminal history dating back to 1985, for robbery, theft, rape, unlawful vehicle possession, drug violations and assaults, and was a sex offender. Wilson served three prison sentences: 1996, 1998-2000, and 2002-2004. On March 4, 2004, Wilson was released early from Walla Walla State Penitentiary (his original release date was late August 2004) to live with his parents in Walla Walla, Washington. During this time, as a community placement offender, he was under the care, custody and control of the state of Washington’s Department of Corrections.
The lawsuit states, “Upon his release, Wilson was required to be supervised by the DOC, through his CCO, Defendant Leyendecker. Defendant Leyendecker met with Wilson on four occasions between March 5 and March 24, 2004. From March 25, 2004 until April 13, 2004, there was no contact between Wilson and Defendant Leyendecker. On April 13, 2004, Wilson went to the DOC office and provided a sample for a urinalysis. Other than that visit, the DOC had no other contact with Wilson during April 2004. The DOC attempted no home visits and no field contacts of Wilson. Further, the DOC did nothing to ensure that Wilson was working or performing community service, required conditions of the Judgment and Sentence under which Wilson was being supervised. Throughout the month of May 2004, the DOC had no contact with Wilson.” Leyendecker called Wilson’s home and reached his mother, to whom he relayed that Wilson needed to report to the DOC. After Wilson failed to show, neither Leyendecker nor any other DOC personnel did anything to follow up.
The lawsuit calls the DOC and its CCO’s supervision of Wilson “completely inadequate.”
What proceeded to follow due to the DOC and its officer’s oversight were crimes that left families scarred.
On May 17, 2004, Wilson is believed to have broken into a local residence, taking more than $6,000 worth of camera equipment, which he pawned. On May 25, 2004, Wilson was linked to another burglary. On May 27, 2004, Wilson returned to one of the residences and stole additional items. On June 2, 2004, another burglary was reported, including a gun reported stolen. On June 3, 2004 police reported Wilson as a suspect in a “forcible rape at gunpoint,” in which Wilson beat and sexually assaulted a 54-year-old woman at gunpoint after playing video-poker with her in Biggs Junction, south of Goldendale, Wash. The spree continued.
On June 8, 2004, Wilson shot and killed a 17-year-old in Mountain Home, Idaho while she was at home alone. On June 9, 2004, after taking $50 cash from the cash register at AA Hometown Laundry in Grantsville, Utah, Wilson told plaintiff, Ms. Lingard, to lay face down with her shirt over her head before shooting her in the back of her chest and leaving her to die.
On June 9, 2004, at approximately 9:30 pm, Wilson entered a mini-mart/gas station in Delle, Utah. After taking the contents of the register, Wilson told Ms. Jensen, another plaintiff in the case, to lay face down on the floor before shooting her in the back of the neck and leaving her to die. Ms. Jensen was able to call 911, leading police to the suspect and a high-speed chase and standoff with Wilson, who then killed himself.
The Washington State DOC and Leyendecker were completely and irresponsibly unaware of Wilson, to the degree that they issued a warrant for Wilson’s arrest a full 12 days after he had shot Ms. Lingard and Ms. Jensen and killed himself.
Wilson was a Risk Management-A offender, the highest, most dangerous category, and while under the supervision of the DOC, should have never been in a position to harm the plaintiffs.
“The DOC did not enforce the Conditions of Release in the Judgment and Sentence dictating the terms of Wilson’s supervised release, nor did the DOC follow its own conditions of release. The DOC’s lack of meaningful supervision of Wilson from March 2004 until June 2004 is even more startling when one compares Defendant Leyendecker’s 2004 supervision of Wilson with Defendant Leyendecker’s prior supervision of Wilson during April 2001 through early June 2002. During that earlier time frame Defendant Leyendecker made numerous field contacts with Wilson and administered fifteen urinalysis tests to ensure that Wilson was not using illegal drugs.”