Jun 06 2008

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Court upholds $1M verdict in 1998 murder of Naperville college student

By Jake Griffin, DailyHerald.com

The Illinois Supreme Court has denied Knox College’s request to hear an appeal of a roughly $1 million verdict against the college following the 1998 murder of a Naperville freshman on the Galesburg campus.

The family of Andrea Racibozynski was awarded the money in May of 2006 after a jury found the college failed to properly train security and light the stairwell where the 19-year-old was killed by a fellow student near the end of the school year, the family’s attorney Ed Manzke said.

The college’s lawyers tried to get the decision reversed in appellate court and lost. They then petitioned the state’s high court, but state justices this week refused to hear the appeal.

“This wasn’t about the money for the family,” Manzke said. “The thing that was important was to point out the things that needed to be changed to make students safe on any college campus.”

Manzke said the verdict of roughly $1 million was the largest monetary award ever in Knox County. He said he had not talked to the family about their plans for the money, but he said they did talk about doing something to honor Andrea’s memory.

The girl’s killer, Clyde Best, pleaded guilty, but mentally ill, in 1999 and was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

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