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Washington state has agreed to pay $2.8 million to the family of a woman killed by a parolee, a settlement that the lawyer for the state said is more a reflection of an uneven legal playing field than an admission of inadequate supervision. “The law on these issues is quite bad for the state because the [Washington] Supreme Court has said we have a duty to control these people,” said W. Dale Kamerrer of Law, Lyman, Daniel, Kamerrer & Bogdanovich of Olympia, Wash., a firm retained by the state. He was referring to a state supreme court case, the 1995 ruling in Taggert v. State (118 Wash. 2d 195), which established the right to sue the Department of Corrections for inadequate or negligent supervision of a parolee. Since 2000, Washington has either settled or been ordered to pay at least $50 million for suits alleging a violation of its duty to supervise parolees adequately. BODY NEVER FOUND The family of Carolyn Killaby, a health technician and mother of two who vanished Nov. 11, 1995, brought the most recent case. Although Killaby’s body was never found, her blood was found in a truck in the possession of Dennis Keith Smith, who was on parole for the 1982 death of his sister, an offense he committed while also on parole, according to plaintiffs’ counsel Sidney Royer of Leemon + Royer of Seattle. Smith fled Washington after the killing, but was arrested in Florida in February 1997 following a violent struggle with police, during which he was shot and wounded. He is now imprisoned in Washington to complete the 99-year term for the death of his sister and a 70-year term for the murder of Killaby. According to Royer, while in prison Smith befriended a woman who did volunteer work with inmates under a church program. She and Smith married while he was in prison. The marriage became central to the decision to parole Smith to Walla Walla County, Wash., where his wife lived, Royer said. The marriage quickly fell apart after the wife became suspicious that Smith was using drugs, Royer said. She eventually obtained a restraining order against Smith but was unsuccessful bringing her suspicions to the attention of the Department of Corrections, Royer said. “He threatened to slice her throat from ear to ear,” Royer said. “She wrote a letter to the head of the Department of Corrections parole division. She got a letter back saying they would investigate and they never did, but that was all the reason in the world to revoke his parole.” A time line prepared by Royer and her co-counsel, Mark Leemon, alleged 25 violations of parole terms by Smith from his release on parole June 23, 1993, until the murder of Killaby on Nov. 11, 1995. “The Department of Corrections was not supervising Smith according to the DOC’s own rules and regulations and according to the terms of his parole,” Royer alleged. “For the last three months of his parole in Clark County he was in an unassigned caseload. There was nobody supervising him.” DEFENSE THEORY Kamerrer said the state had prepared a vigorous defense built around the theory — bolstered by a ruling on the eve of trial granting partial summary judgment — that essentially broke Smith’s parole into two segments. Clark County Superior Court Judge Barbara D. Johnson barred plaintiffs’ claims of negligence on the part of the state prior to March 1995, when Smith was ordered jailed for 60 days after testing positive for drugs. Kamerrer said following Smith’s release from the 60-day jail term he was closely monitored to make certain he was employed, living at his parents’ home and frequently giving urine samples for both scheduled and random drug and alcohol testing. “When the trial court judge granted the motion for partial summary judgment that restricted the evidence that could be presented, all of a sudden the plaintiffs were interested in negotiating again,” Kamerrer said. “Settlement is always a matter of risk management because, obviously, there are sympathies that favor the victim,” Kamerrer added. Killaby v. State of Washington, No. 99 2 00042 4 (Wash. Sup. Ct.), Judge Barbara D. Johnson.

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