The husband of a murder victim cannot sue the state for failing to protect his wife, a judge has ruled.
Jim Hunsaker, the husband of slaying victim Maurine Hunsaker, contended the state was aware Ralph LeRoy Menzies had a history of violent robberies and was capable of murder but paroled him in 1985.In 1986, Maurine Hunsaker, 26, was kidnapped from the Kearns convenience store where she worked, and her throat was cut.
Menzies was convicted of the slaying. In 1978, Menzies was convicted of using a shotgun to blow the arm off a cab driver during a robbery. He committed the robbery after escaping from jail where he was serving a term for another armed robbery.
The state has an obligation to protect those in the public who can be "accessed" easily by parolees the state knows are prone to robberies, Hunsaker's attorney said.
Third District Judge Richard Moffat said Wednesday there are too many citizens with exposure to the public to be protected by the state.
"The fact of the matter is almost everybody in service industries can be regarded as working with the public," the judge said. "That would include college professors, bank tellers and judges."
Hunsaker's attorney, Gary Ferrero, also argued that Menzies had violated parole at least four times, including an arrest for shoplifting and possessing a gun.
He said those violations were known to Menzies' parole officer, who did not inform the Board of Pardons. Had the board known, it might have ordered a more restrictive parole for Menzies or extended his prison term, said Ferrero.
Moffat said he was also not convinced the parole officer's failure to report Menzies' parole violations to the Board of Pardons would have made that much difference.
"There is no evidence the parole board would have changed the parole conditions of Menzies nor revoked it nor in any other way take any action which would have afforded greater protection for the public," the judge said.
Ferrero expects to appeal Moffat's decision and said the judge misunderstood the classification of Maurine Hunsaker as an employee with exposure to the public.
"The judge just took that classification too far - we didn't," he said. "There's no way a college professor, in his usual role, could be accessed by someone like Menzies."