Skip to comments.Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit (CO)
Posted on 08/27/2011 5:55:22 AM PDT by marktwain
An El Paso County jury on Friday awarded nearly $300,000 to the daughter of a burglar who was fatally shot in 2009 while breaking into an auto lot.
Parents of the victim, Robert Johnson Fox, embraced their attorneys after a judge announced the jurys verdict, capping a two-week-long civil trial in which business owner Jovan Milanovic and two relatives were painted as vigilantes who plotted a deadly ambush rather than let authorities deal with a string of recent burglaries.
Phillip and Sue Fox, who filed suit for wrongful death in 2010 on behalf of Foxs 3-year-old daughter, called the jurys award a victory in their fight to seek accountability for the death of their son, who they say never posed a threat to the heavily armed men.
Rob was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing, but the punishment didnt fit the crime, Sue Fox said afterward. I cant excuse his actions, but he didnt deserve to be executed.
The exact amount of the award was $269,500, for factors such as loss of companionship and loss of future earnings. The family will also be awarded some of the costs associated with the more than yearlong legal battle.
The jury of three men and three women deliberated for 2½ days over closely contested testimony about the predawn shooting on April 19, 2009.
Fox, 20, was shot after he and a friend scaled a fence to get inside Southwest Auto Sales at 2444 Platte Place in the citys Knob Hill neighborhood. According to the accomplice, Brian Corbin, they had smoked methamphetamine and were looking to steal anything to buy more drugs.
Corbin testified he saw two armed men charge out of a building and run in their direction, one of them shouting were gonna get you in an obscenity-laced threat. Corbin, who escaped by climbing over a car and jumping a fence, said he felt a bullet pass by him as someone fired four gunshots.
Fox was standing inside a small shed when a .45-caliber rifle bullet passed through the sheds door and pierced his heart.
Police said in a 145-page investigative report that the intruder had knives in his pockets and one strapped to his ankle, but never posed a threat to Milanovic or the other men, his father Ljuban Milanovic and brother-in-law Srdjan Milanovic.
The men are refugees who came to the United States from the former Yugoslavia in 1998.
Jurors found that Foxs death was the result of willful and deliberate conduct by Jovan Milanovic, who was accused of firing the rifle, and Novak, who supplied the semiautomatic Heckler & Koch that Milanovic used in the killing.
Only Ljuban Milanovic emerged without a judgment against him.
The jurors declined to comment after the trial.
"It's been a long two weeks," one said before getting on an elevator.
The three men were accused of keeping an armed vigil over the auto lot and firing on the first burglars they saw. The men were angry over a series of thefts that began when someone broke in a week earlier and stole keys to customers automobiles as well as keys to buildings on the property.
Car stereos were taken in the days that followed, according to testimony.
Under Colorados self-defense laws, the use of deadly force is justified only under the reasonable belief that its necessary to prevent serious bodily injury or death. The jury found that none of the men had a legitimate claim of self-defense.
Property rights are not a lawful defense for using deadly force in Colorado, and the states so-called Make My Day law, which sets lower standard for using force, applies to households, not businesses.
For the plaintiff's attorneys, Terry Rector and Jennifer Stock, Friday's verdict ended an emotionally draining fight for the girl, Sidney Richardson, who has been cared for by the elder Foxes for the past year.
Rector, of Colorado Springs, had represented Fox on traffic matters, and said his death came as a blow.
"I can see him sitting in my office today," an emotional Rector said as participants filed out of the courthouse.
"This is a victory for Sidney Richardson. It's the only measure of justice we have - we cannot bring her father back."
Said Stock: "This jury didn't let sympathy and bias influence them. That's why we got the correct verdict that follows the law."
Milanovic and his father told police a week before the shooting they would shoot any intruders who returned. Police say the men concealed the rifle in the trunk of a car so well that a police detective initially missed it during a search.
The 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office declined to file charges in the shooting, and instead sent the case to a grand jury, which decided against returning an indictment, effectively clearing the trio of criminal wrongdoing.
The civil award has no criminal implications for the Milanovics or Novak.
Defense attorneys John P. Craver and Chelsey Burns declined to comment.
This has to stop. Thieves get everything they deserve.
is that a bad thing?
This decision is so typical of american civil juries. I quit being amazed by them many years ago.
Waste of tax payer money.
A father who used Meth and was a thief, who wants him back.
My only hope is that the members if this jury who gave this award are robbed once a week so they can see first hand how frustrating it is to work hard and have the benefits of that work stolen so some addict can shoot up.
Does the punishment fit the crime? Ask someone who is constantly being robbed,cannot sleep because someone may rob them any minute and has their property taken. This guy wasnt carryiong those knives to clean his fingernails. He would have stabbed or cut either of these men if he could have gotten close enough. Especially when he is high on Meth.
If you don’t have the right protect your property then you have no property rights.
Milanovic needs to sue the estate for the emotional anguish and fear caused by the criminal break-ins by a meth addicted armed burglar. He’s probably too fearful to go to his business now. Use the system against the burglar’s family.
There is a “feeling” among many,even police, that no property is worth a life because insurance will replace it.Which is bull because insurance costs the property owner more money and seldom fully covers the losses.
The English have carried this to the extreme where a resident serf must stand aside whilst the thief carries out his goods;too use force against the criminals is too horrid!
At least the district attorney and grand jury did not indict the victims.
the legal system has posthumously rewarded a law breaker. This is institutional cognitive-dissonance, and you know what that means.
Future earnings from what? More burglaries?
Small potatoes. The City Council of Austin, TX, this week voted 5-2 to give a $750,000 reward to the parents who reared a local thug. He was killed when he threatened police and who at age 20, had nine arrests, one for robbing and beating a paraplegic in a wheelchair at an ATM.
The Liberal/Black coalition on the Council were afraid there would be riots in the Black community if they didn’t pay this protection money. They settled out of court because they knew that no jury would award money for the life of this criminal, who had already cost the city and state hundreds of thousands in judicial expenses in his worthless life. To their credit, the Mayor and the Hispanic member voted against this extortion.
Though Austin is the capital of Texas, it is also the sinkhole where most of the Liberals in the state are segregated, so it is unofficially known as the A** Hole of Texas.
Stock is a selfish idiot who decides which victim his heart will go out to in a crime.
Been there, agree completely. That said ‘God Bless Texas!”
we cannot bring her father back.”...And if we did, the meth smoking thief would cost the taxpayer much more than $300,000 and probably endanger the little girl.
Seriously, the guys probably did the daughter a huge favor when they offed her mother’s sperm donor. If this guy had had any involvement in her life whatsoever it is very unlikely that it would have been positive in any way. The jury should have awarded the shooters a cool half a mill from the deceased parents for parental malpractice for inflicting a thing like that on society.
I just hope the judge appoints a guardian ad litem to keep the grandparents or mother from pissing away this evil windfall.
Yeah, they should have left it up to the 'authorities'. That's always effective.
“Stock is a selfish idiot who decides which victim his heart will go out to in a crime.”
Her heart goes out to whomever gives her a 1/3 piece of the haul. In this case around $89,000 (plus court costs & fees of course).
You have to be just a tad more subtle in your ambushes, it seems.