Unsolved Killing Creates $1 Million Problem

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A man was shot to death in his driveway 18 days after his wife became the beneficiary of a $1 million policy on his life, and the insurer wants to deposit the $1 million with a federal court.
     Banner Life Insurance says police have “no suspects in custody and no indictments pending” for the Sept. 13, 2008 killing of Veno Leigertwood Jr. But “Upon information and belief, the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division has identified defendant Raven Leigertwood as a ‘person of interest’ with respect to the murder of her husband,” Banner says in its federal complaint.
     Banner adds: “If defendant Raven Leigertwood was in fact involved with the murder of her husband, Veno E.E. Leigertwood, payment of the policy proceeds to her by Banner Life is against public policy as established by the Pennsylvania Slayers Act.”
     But if it pays the money to the victim’s mother, the policy’s contingent beneficiary, and Raven Leigertwood is subsequently cleared of involvement in the killing, “and it is later determined that such payment was contrary the Pennsylvania Slayers Act, then defendant Viola Leigertwood may have a claim against Banner Life for payment of the policy proceeds,” the company says.
     Banner wants the court to take the $1,091,635 payable under the policy and discharge it from any further liability and obligations, and let defendants Raven and Viola Leigertwood, or anyone else not yet named as a party to the action, interplead for it.
     The case came to national attention when NBC’s “Dateline” made it the subject of a broadcast called “Death in the Driveway,” on June 3 this year.
     According to the complaint, Banner issued the $1 million policy on Veno Leigertwood’s life on Aug. 26, 2008. Leigertwood, 32, was a guidance counselor for the Philadelphia School District.
     Eighteen days after the insurer issued the policy, “On or about September 13, 2008, Veno E.E. Leigertwood, Jr., was murdered in the driveway of his home at 645 Church Lane, Yeadon, Pennsylvania, and died as a result of a gunshot wound to the neck,” according to the complaint.
     Raven Leigertwood sought payment of the policy 11 days later, the complaint states.
     Banner adds: “Defendant Raven Leigertwood continues to make demand upon Banner Life for immediate payment of the policy proceeds.”
     Banner acknowledges that the money is due and payable, but wants the court to hold it, because “The circumstances and perpetrator or perpetrators of the death of Veno E.E. Leigertwood, Jr., upon information and belief, have been and remain under the ongoing, open investigation of the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division, and, perhaps, other investigative authorities.”
     Paying the money to either Raven or Viola, therefore, could subject Banner to “multiple, vexatious and expensive litigation,” the company says. It wants to pay the money and be done with it.
     Banner is represented by Michael Glasheen with McCarter & English.

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