Appeals court: Halfway house not responsible for woman’s death

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled that a Louisville halfway house cannot be held responsible for a fatal crash in Prestonsburg involving an escaped inmate.

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James Mace

James Mace was nearing the end of a prison sentence for burglary, theft and receiving stolen property, when he was transferred to Community Transitional Services, a halfway house in Louisville. He walked away from CTS in May of 2012. Nine days later, he was discovered in Floyd County, where he became involved in a high-speed chase with police.

That chase ended in Prestonsburg, when he ran head-on into another vehicle. That car contained 63-year-old Brenda Montgomery, of Jackson, who died as a result.

Montgomery’s husband, J.C. Montgomery, filed a lawsuit against Mace for causing his wife’s death, and later added CTS to the complaint. He alleged that negligence allowed Mace to escape and CTS should be held partially responsible.

That complaint was dismissed, and last month, the Court of Appeals agreed.

In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel determined there was no way that CTS could be held responsible, because it was not foreseeable that Mace would be involved in a fatal crash nine days after his escape, 190 miles away.

The lawsuit remains pending against Mace, who is currently serving a 50-year sentence in the Kentucky State Penitentiary. He will not be eligible for parole until 2029.