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Court Overturns $1.5 Million Judgement For Parents of Slain Girl

December 16, 1986

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A federal appeals court has overturned a $1.5 million award to a couple whose 9-year-old daughter was raped and killed by a jail escapee.

Jennifer Barden, the daughter of Rosalyn Barden Nelson and Dennis Barden, was killed by Billy Wilson as he fled through Gallatin, Mo. The couple contended that the Washington Parish, La., Sheriff’s Department was negligent in Wilson’s escape from the Bogalusa City Jail.

Wilson later was shot to death during a north Louisiana break-in, authorities said.

The sheriff’s department and its insurer appealed after a U.S. District Court jury awarded the money to the parents. However, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday that ″only those people who reside within the vicinity of the prison, and who the prisoner injures within a reasonable time after his escape, may assert a cause of action against a negligent jailer.″

The court noted the girl died 13 days after Wilson escaped and more than 750 miles from Bogalusa.

The appeals court said Wilson escaped while awaiting transfer from the Bogalusa jail to the state penitentiary for raping a 9-year-old girl in Angie, La.

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