Taunting With Dance Didn't Prompt Murder
(CN) - A woman is not responsible for triggering a man's murderous rampage after she suggestively danced with his wife, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled.
Simone Greenway and Carrie Randall-Evans had been friends only a few months by the time of the December 2006 shooting rampage, but Randall-Evans had confided in Greenway that she feared her husband, Jeffrey Evans, might kill her. They met that summer through a mutual friend with whom Randall-Evans had been staying temporarily to get away from Jeffrey.
Though Greenway had met Jeffrey a few times, and said he always "bad-mouth[ed]" Carrie and or threatened "to beat the shit out of her," Greenway had never witnessed Jeffrey become violent or threaten to shoot Carrie.
On the night of the murder, Randall-Evans had just returned from a trip to San Antonio, Texas, and Greenway brought the couple to her house outside Wasilla for some "moose meat" and drinks.
Bill Anthony, a friend of Greenway's, had also been at the gathering when Greenway and Randall-Evans began teasing Jeffrey by dancing suggestively, kissing and touching each other to punish him "because he was a jealous man."
Greenway later testified she wanted to show her friend that "you don't have to be afraid here."
Jeffrey then left the room and came back with a gun. He shot Greenway first, then Anthony five times, before firing another round into Greenway's chest. After chasing down Randall-Evans, he shot her three times, including once in the back of the head, killing her. Jeffrey then turned the gun on himself.
Greenway alone survived the attack only to face a lawsuit from David Hurn, a man with whom Randall-Evans had two minor children.
Seeking damages on behalf of those children, Hurn claimed that "Greenway was negligent when she made sexual advances towards Carrie Randall-Evans while her husband Jeffrey Evans was in the home," ultimately causing the shooting rampage.
A Superior Court judge granted Greenway summary judgment, and the Supreme Court of Alaska affirmed Friday after holding that "murder was not the foreseeable result of suggestive dancing."
"Jeffrey's shooting spree was a highly extraordinary response to Greenway's dance," Justice Dana Fabe wrote for the four-member panel. "Hurn argues that foreseeability can be inferred because Greenway knew that Jeffrey had threatened Carrie with physical harm in the past; Carrie was afraid that Jeffrey would kill her; Jeffrey was a jealous man; on the night of the murder Jeffrey sometimes wore a 'stone cold expression' that betrayed no emotion; and prior to Greenway's dance, he had issued a veiled threat: 'What would you girls do if someone came in that door right now, after you?'
"We read these facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, but as a matter of law they cannot overcome the presumption that the criminal acts of third parties are unforeseeable. It is not clear that homicide could ever be the foreseeable result of mere teasing, and Greenway could not foresee such violence here."
Hurn's complaint also asks the court to place too great a burden on victims of domestic violence, according to the ruling.
"If Greenway is liable for taunting an abusive husband, it follows that victims themselves may be liable for provoking their partners if the result is harm to a third party," Fabe wrote.
"These requests are particularly troubling where, as here, the 'provocation' is an act of resistance. We reject the idea that victims are responsible for the violence they endure in the home, and we will not blame them for their otherwise reasonable actions simply because those actions foreseeably result in violence," she added.