Kentucky’s Supreme Court is considering whether Western Kentucky University and its Student Life Foundation can be sued in connection with the 2003 murder of a freshman student.
Pelleville freshman Katie Autry was raped, sodomized and set on fire in her dorm room in Hugh Poland Hall in May of 2003. She died a few days later at Vanderbilt Hospital.
Autry’s family filed a Wrongful Death Suit in connection with the murder. In November 2003, a Warren Circuit Court judge dismissed WKU and the Student Life Foundation from the suit, citing governmental immunity.
The Court of Appeals upheld the decision to drop Western but reinstated the Student Life Foundation, which owns the University’s dorms. Today, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007, attorneys on both sides presented arguments to the Kentucky Supreme Court.
“Once you look at this case, you realize WKU does not own the dorms, Western is acting solely as property manager and because of that, should not be entitled to immunity,” said Ben Crocker, attorney for the Autry estate.
“That’s a matter that goes back to sovereign immunity, always receive immunity from suit,” said Charles English Sr., representing WKU.
Stephen Soules of Scottsville pleaded guilty to Autry’s murder in March 2004 and was sentenced to life without the possibility of probation or parole. Lucas Goodrum, also of Scottsville, was found not guilty of Autry’s murder on March 21, 2005.
No word yet on when the ruling will be announced.