$500,000 – Negligent Supervision of Whatcom County Probationer Leads to Death of a Child
Eight year old Michael “Mikey” Busby Jr. was murdered April 18, 2002 by his sixteen year old neighbor, Ryan Alexander. At the time of the murder, Alexander was supposed to be serving a 20-day sentence from Juvenile Court on home arrest, and was being supervised by the Whatcom County Probation Department. The lawsuit claimed that the Probation Department was negligent in supervising Alexander.
The family of Mikey Busby brought the lawsuit because they wanted to know how a juvenile who was supposed to be serving a sentence on home arrest was able to murder their child. The Busby family’s attorney Bill Coats obtained Alexander’s juvenile probation files through a court order, because he believed there were documents in the Probation Department’s own files that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that Alexander was dangerous.
Alexander had a history of setting fires in the neighborhood. In one case he turned on a neighbor’s gas barbeque that was next to their house. The house caught fire and had to be extinguished by the fire department. The most telling aspect of the fire was that Alexander set it in retaliation for the neighbor telling him that she no longer wanted him to play with her two younger children. Alexander also had a felony conviction for Residential Burglary and a history of mental illness.
Alexander began his 20 day sentence of home arrest for burglary on April 11, 2002. Under the home arrest program in place at the time, random computer-generated telephone calls are placed and Alexander is required to answer. Alexander did not answer calls that were placed on April 12th and 13th. Even though the home arrest program registered that Alexander had not complied with the requirements of the program when he failed to answer the calls, he was allowed to remain at home.
On April 18, 2002, Alexander lured his neighbor Mikey to an empty field in the neighborhood, where Alexander cut, choked, and injected Mikey with enough insulin to kill him. Later when questioned, Alexander stated that he killed Mikey because Mikey had been annoying him. Had Alexander been properly supervised as required by the home arrest program, he would not have been free to murder Mikey.
The family of Michael Busby Jr. and Whatcom County settled a wrongful death lawsuit after a day-long mediation. Whatcom County agreed to pay the Busby family $500,000. The County also agreed to send the Busby family a letter saying they were sorry for the death of their son and verifying that the phone monitored home arrest program that Alexander was on is no longer being used by the County.
Sometimes horrible things happen to innocent victims. Even children. But sometimes, not just for the immediate members of a victim’s family, but in a way that changes a broken system, it is important to exercise your legal rights. It’s this kind of thorough, empathetic approach that makes Bill Coats an effective ally for accident victims. Contact Bill for a free consultation about your case. For more information about his approach, visit the Practice Areas page on wrongful deaths.