Crime

Wrongful death lawsuit filed in 2012 east Macon gas station shooting

The daughter of a woman fatally shot in 2012 outside an east Macon gas station has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Linda Hunnicutt, 65, was struck by a ricocheted bullet allegedly fired by 75-year-old Frank Reeves outside the Murphy Express on Gray Highway on Dec. 4, 2012.

The lawsuit, filed by Kimberly L. Butler, names Reeves and Murphy Oil USA Inc. as defendants.

Butler’s lawyer Neal Graham said Hunnicutt was a “generous, wonderful lady.”

“This was a tragic thing that happened to her,” he said. “Her family and friends remain devastated by it.”

Hunnicutt had gone to the gas station, located at 1402 Gray Highway, to buy fuel.

As she entered the driveway, Reeves also was driving up in his motorized wheelchair. Hunnicutt’s car “came close to making contact” with Reeves’ wheelchair, and Reeves became “upset,” according to the lawsuit filed this week in Bibb County Superior Court.

Reeves approached Hunnicutt after she exited her car, and a verbal exchange ensued. Reeves fired a shot from a .38-caliber pistol in Hunnicutt’s direction, according to the lawsuit.

The bullet ricocheted and struck Hunnicutt in the chest about 1 p.m. She died about a half-hour later, according to the lawsuit.

Reeves was charged with murder Dec. 4, 2012. The criminal case likely won’t go to trial until sometime in 2015.

The case has been the subject of controversy in recent months.

Reeves’ first lawyer, Veronica Brinson, unsuccessfully sought the removal of a judge from the criminal case, citing bias.

Brinson later was removed from the case herself, accused of being “ineffective” in her representation. She was cited for 10 counts of contempt in September stemming from her actions pertaining to Reeves’ case. Brinson could face a maximum penalty of $10,000 and 200 days in jail depending on the outcome of a contempt hearing that has been postponed on two occasions.

Rick Waller, a Macon public defender, was appointed to replace Brinson in representing Reeves.

Waller said his office won’t be representing Reeves in the civil case. He declined further comment.

Attempts to reach a Murphy Oil USA Inc. corporate representative were not successful Friday.

ALLEGATIONS OF NEGLIGENCE

Butler’s lawsuit contends that Reeves was negligent in firing a gun in Hunnicutt’s direction and that Murphy Oil should have done more to keep patrons safe.

Although Hunnicutt didn’t have prior knowledge of Reeves’ alleged “propensity for violence or his habit of frequenting” the gas station, Murphy Oil and its employees were aware and the company is “vicariously responsible” for omissions that resulted in harm to Hunnicutt, according to the lawsuit.

Graham said witnesses can verify Reeves’ past violent acts at the gas station.

Evidence also exists that there have been “numerous acts of violence aside from Mr. Reeves at this and other Murphy Oil locations in Macon,” he said.

The lawsuit also contends that Hunnicutt “suffered great pain of her mind and body prior to her death.” Her estate has incurred medical and funeral bills.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for Hunnicutt’s pain and suffering, medical and funeral bills, the value of Hunnicutt’s life and attorney fees.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.

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