2 families of slain women settle with Ky. jail


Associated Press Writer

LOUISVILLE — The families of two women killed by a pair of escaped convicts on a multistate crime spree settled a lawsuit against a western Kentucky jail Thursday.

The parents of Samantha Burns, of West Hamlin, W.Va., and the husband of Alice Donovan, of Galivants Ferry, S.C., reached an agreement with Hopkins County, the county jail and its employees over the escape of inmates Brandon Basham and Chadrick Fulks on Nov. 4, 2002. The families claimed the jail was negligent by leaving the inmates unsupervised and not having properly working security cameras.

Fulks and Basham were sentenced to death for killing Donovan, 44, in December 2002. They were given life sentences in the death of Burns, a 19-year-old Marshall University student. Neither woman’s body has been found.

The terms of the settlement were not immediately available Thursday. Hopkins County Judge-Executive Donald Carroll said he is pleased with the settlement, but hadn’t been briefed on the terms as of Thursday.

An attorney who represents the families did not immediately return a telephone message.

Burns’ parents, John and Kandi Burns of West Hamlin, W.Va., and Barry Donovan, the husband of Alice Donovan, sued the jail and county in federal court in 2005. The lawsuit said Fulks and Basham were left in the jail’s recreation yard unsupervised for about 90 minutes and that security cameras weren’t in their normal positions on the day they escaped.

The suit also claimed the jail was understaffed in the months and days leading up to the escape.

Fulks and Basham escaped through a fence around the recreation yard. The suit claimed two women in Indiana helped the escaped convicts by housing them as well as getting them guns, stolen credit cards and checks. Fulks, Basham and the two women, who were not charged criminally, were later dropped from the suit.

Fulks, a West Hamlin, W.Va., native, offered to help find Donovan’s body before his trial, but the search in the southeastern North Carolina woods turned up nothing.

Basham and Fulks are in prison in Terre Haute, Ind., awaiting execution.

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