Parents of China shooting survivor file suit, allege mom should have anticipated husband's violence

David Yates Apr. 22, 2008, 12:34pm

In the summer of 2006, the close-knit community of China, Texas, was devastated by a murder-suicide that left a man, woman and two of their children dead and two other children traumatized.

Now the parents of one of the survivors have filed suit against the estate of the deceased woman, claiming she was negligent and should have known of her husband's violent tendencies.

On June 30, 2006, Richard Jennings, 52, went to the home of his estranged wife, Leslie Jennings, 43, on Old China Road. According to local media reports, Richard Jennings shot and killed his wife, their 10-year-old son, Nathan, and 7-year-old daughter, Carmen. The Jennings' 13-year-old son managed to escape and go for help.

Richard Jennings then opened fire on a sheriff's deputy who was responding to the boy's 911 call, wounding the deputy in the arm and shoulder. Jennings then turned the gun on himself.

A 7-year-old girl, who was spending the night with the Jennings girl, was in the home and witnessed the murders. According to an article from the Beaumont Enterprise, the girl was found alive in a bedroom, hiding behind a curtain.

The girl's parents, identified only as C.H. and M.H., filed suit April 21 in Jefferson County District Court against the estate of Leslie Jennings. The suit claims Leslie should "have known of Richard's propensity for violence."

The suit states that Leslie Jennings was negligent for "failing to control (her husband's) acts."

The plaintiffs are asking the court to award damages and all other relief to which they are justly entitled.

They are represented by Michael Lindsay of the Lindsay & Morgan law firm.

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th Judicial District.

Case No. D181-625

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