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Hunter v. State

9/13/2002

2002 Opinion No. 115


The decision of the district court is reversed.


This is a wrongful death action filed by Louis and Beverly Rae Hunter (the Hunters) against the State of Idaho, Department of Corrections (the State) and James Lynch, doing business as Mr. Gas and Mr. Wash (Mr. Wash). The Hunters allege that the State and Lynch negligently failed to supervise Corey Hood, who was on probation for rape. Corey Hood murdered the Hunters' daughter, Wendy Hunter (Hunter).


I.


FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY


Hood was convicted of statutory rape in Minidoka County on August 29, 1994, following an allegation that he had forcibly raped a child under the age of eighteen. Hood pled guilty to statutory rape and was sentenced to the custody of the Board of Correction for a term of three years. The court retained jurisdiction for 180 days, and Hood was sent to the North Idaho Correctional Institute. He was placed on three years probation after completing that program.


The terms of probation required Hood to remain employed, report to his probation officer, and refrain from intimate relations with anyone under eighteen. Officer Kim Spevak (Spevak) supervised Hood's probation. Spevak had also served as the pre-sentence investigator on Hood's statutory rape conviction and was aware that the 1994 rape could have been a forcible rape. This information was contained in victim's statements in the original police report.


Spevak first met with Hood on April 16, 1995, and asked him to execute a "Sexual Offender Contract" which was not ordered by the district court. Spevak also asked Hood to undergo a sexual offender evaluation in order to determine what risk he posed. Hood never underwent the sexual offender evaluation.


Spevak used the State's Risks and Needs assessment to determine the proper level of supervision for Hood. He was rated at the "maximum" level of supervision. Because of this rating, Spevak was required to meet with Hood face to face twice per month and make one home visit each month. Spevak's notes indicate that she met with Hood in excess of the minimum requirements. Spevak testified that she treated Hood as though he were a forcible rapist.


In August of 1995 Hood began working at Mr. Wash, a car wash in Burley. Spevak confirmed Hood's employment by visiting Mr. Wash and meeting with Hood's supervisor. Spevak informed the supervisor that Hood was on probation for a sexual offense and was not to interact with minors. Spevak did not inform the supervisor of the precise nature of Hood's conviction.


There were no complaints about Hood's conduct at Mr. Wash. Hunter, who was seventeen years old at the time of her death, was also an employee at Mr. Wash. There was testimony that the supervisors at Mr. Wash did not know Hunter's age. Employees at Mr. Wash had observed Hunter talking with Hood on several occasions, but no employees were aware of Hood and Hunter seeing each other outside of their employment. Although employees had seen Hunter "flirting" with Hood, employees testified that Hunter flirted with most male employees at Mr. Wash.


On May 16, 1996, Hood raped and murdered Hunter at his home in Burley. Hunter had quit her job at Mr. Wash six weeks before her murder. The Hunters filed a wrongful death action against the State and Mr. Wash for negligence and negligent supervision of Hood during his probation. The case was tried to a jury. The jury returned a verdict of $1.8 million and apportioned negligence as follows: Earl Hunter, 1%; Wendy Hunter, 4%; Mr. Wash, 20%; the State, 35%; and Hood, 40%. The State and Mr. Wash appeal the district court's denial of their motions for su

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