A man facing a life sentence for the murder of his wife has been hit with a record-breaking civil verdict arising from the same crime.
The $15 million verdict appears to be the largest wrongful death award handed down by a Virginia jury.
Peter C. Burnett and Jonathan B. Slater of Leesburg represented the family of Cacey Combs-LaFleur, who died in 2010 after her husband Steven struck her several times in the head with a two-pound sledge hammer. The husband claimed Cacey suffered a fatal injury when the ladder he was standing on suddenly “kicked out” and fell on her. He told investigators he struck her with the sledgehammer to end her agony.
In November, a criminal jury convicted Steven Combs-LaFleur of first-degree murder and recommended life in prison. He will be sentenced March 9.
Cacey’s beneficiaries are her mother and two brothers. The one-day civil trial included testimony from Cacey’s niece and nephew. Attorneys asked the Loudoun County jury for $15 million as a reflection of the grief and anguish associated with the horrific nature of the crime.
– Sarah Rodriguez