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Sheriff faces lawsuit over Memorial Day killing

The Memorial Day murder of a deputy’s ex-wife has led to a $20-million wrongful death lawsuit against Franklin County Sheriff Ewell Hunt.

Former deputy Jonathan Agee, 32, is accused of gunning down his ex-wife Jennifer in Roanoke City and later wounding a state trooper who pursued Agee into Montgomery County.

The family of Jennifer Agee claims Hunt deliberately concealed the murderous intentions of his deputy because Hunt feared embarrassment and wanted to win re-election.

According to reports that emerged after the incident, Hunt received word of Agee’s intention to kill his ex-wife, but directed his office not to alert other police agencies about the situation.

“Sheriff Hunt’s actions not only led to the death of Jennifer Agee but they put at risk the lives of all citizens and law enforcement officers” in a three-county area, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Roanoke City Circuit Court. The lawsuit accusing Hunt of “willful and wanton” conduct and gross negligence also seeks damages from Jonathan Agee.

Roanoke lawyer Matt Broughton (above, with Jennifer Agee family members) said his firm filed the civil lawsuit even though criminal charges remain pending to encourage witnesses to come forward with information. “There is a wealth of information out there we think we can get if we just get the word out,” Broughton said.

Broughton said law enforcement agencies are tight lipped about details while their investigations continue.

Agee faces criminal trials in November and January. Hunt, a Republican, faces a November re-election challenge from independent Bill Overton.

By Peter Vieth

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