(CN) – The family of a man shot to death by his wife cannot collect damages from their daughter-in-law’s co-worker whose gun was the murder weapon, a Texas appeals court ruled.
Gretchen Richardson is serving 40 years for the murder of her husband, John Kennedy Richardson, in 2005.
She killed him with a .38-caliber revolver that was owned by her co-worker at Stewart R. Kelly Real Estate, Michael Lee Crawford.
According to the appellate opinion, Crawford was one of Gretchen’s few friends.
“Many of her co-workers alleged that they were scared of how manipulative, vindictive, hateful and intimidating Gretchen could be,” Justice Al Scoggins wrote for the Waco-based Tenth District Texas Court of Appeals.
Gretchen suffered from depression after a hysterectomy and began to abuse drugs. On June 4, the couple fought verbally and physically after John told his wife that the pharmacists were not going to give her more pills because he told them about her drug abuse.
Enraged and under the influence of alcohol, Ambien and hydrocodone, Gretchen left the house to buy more drugs. On the way, she stopped by the real estate office to pick up a gun Crawford kept in his desk drawer. Crawford had testified that he kept the gun there so female employees would have protection if they were working with suspicious people or in bad parts of town.
Gretchen then bought $400 worth of drugs at an apartment complex and headed home. On the way, she noticed that John was driving behind her, flashing his lights.
After the Richardsons pulled their cars over, John and Gretchen got out of their cars. She fired a warning shot in the air as John yelled at her. When John told Gretchen to stay away from their children, she shot him three times, and he died.
John’s family members sued Crawford for negligent entrustment and storage of a firearm. The trial court ruled that Crawford was not liable, and the appeals court agreed.
“Gretchen admitted that no one at Kelly Realtors, including appellee, could have foreseen that she intended to murder John,” Scoggins wrote for a four-justice panel.
“Though appellee was aware that Gretchen was not happy in her marriage to John, appellee had no knowledge that Gretchen intended to kill John,” he added. “Rather, appellee suggested that Gretchen file for divorce. As such, we believe that Gretchen’s intentional act of shooting John was unforeseeable and would constitute a superseding cause of harm which breaks the causation.”