EXCLUSIVE: Jury rules in favor of family suing church
Jamie Mitchell (source: Mitchell Family)
Big Springs Assembly of God Church
Youth Minister Derek Coulter
(source: Nelson County Sheriff's Department)
BARDSTOWN, KY (WAVE) - A jury has reached a verdict the case of a Nelson County church being sued over a teenage boy's death.
After three hours of deliberating, the jury of 12 awarded the estate $2,150,000.
Court documents say church youth minister Derek Coulter let 13-year-old Jamie Mitchell drive his vehicle at a church function. Mitchell crashed and Coulter at first lied and told police Coulter was behind the wheel instead.
Mitchell's family sued Big Springs Assembly of God Church for damages.
"It's a sigh of relief that someone was held accountable for what happened to my nephew," said Melissa Stevenson, the victim's aunt.
Her nephew - Jamie Mitchell - died in a June 2009 crash.
"My nephew can finally be at rest and my family can be at peace over all the lies that have been told," Stevenson said.
Coulter would later face criminal charges, and agreed to plead guilty to reckless homicide and wanton endangerment.
He served nearly 2 years of a 5 year sentence before he was let out on parole.
Mitchell's family said that wasn't good enough - and took the church to court in a civil case, saying it was also responsible for Coulter's actions.
"We definitely still want people to go to church, but do not take for granted that you can trust them because you can't," Stevenson said.
In four days of testimony, the church claimed it wasn't responsible for the event, and that it wasn't a church function; a story the jury evidently didn't buy.
"We can finally take a deep breath and not be weighed down," Stevenson said.
The jury ruled that the fault was 80% the minister and 20% the victim, which could reduce the actual dollar amount.