TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The state is not liable for the death of an 83-year-old woman who died months after she was assaulted in her home by an escaped inmate, the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled.
Christopher Zorn, an inmate at Norton Correctional Facility, walked away from the prison in 2008. He went to the home of Helen Keiswetter, assaulted her and locked her in a closet, according to court documents. Authorities said injuries sustained in the assault led to her death months later.
Zorn was later arrested in Denver and pleaded guilty to several charges, including aggravated robbery, aggravated escape from custody and aggravated battery, The Topeka Capital Journal reported (https://j.mp/1Qt0Iw6 ).
Lower courts ruled the state wasn’t negligent in Zorn’s escape, and therefore wasn’t liable.
Keiswetter’s heirs appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court, arguing Zorn was dangerous and that guards shouldn’t have left him unattended.
In a unanimous ruling Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court rejected the family’s argument. The court cited the police protection exception in the law, which was established to protect cities from lawsuits claiming police departments should have sent more police cars to a crime scene or more fire trucks to a house fire.
The high court said prison employees are considered police and are granted similar protection from liability.
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com
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