Suit filed in killings

Published 12:01 am Thursday, March 13, 2008

VIDALIA — The parents of slain teenager Matthew Whittington have filed suit against the estate of the two people who died the same night he did.

Dennis and Judy Whittington filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the estate of John and Geraldine Wood, their son Hudson Wood as executor of the estate, Conner Wood and XYZ Insurance Company in late February.

Neither Hudson Wood nor XYZ Insurance has filed any motions in response to the suit.

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Matthew Whittington was 16 years old on the night in March 2007 when Conner Wood, then 15, allegedly shot and killed Whittington and his parents, John and Geraldine Wood, in the Woods’ 119 Shady Lane residence.

The suit alleges the Wood household had firearms in the residence that were “freely accessible and available” to Conner Wood, and that his parents did not properly supervise him and allowed him access to the guns.

The suit also alleges John and Geraldine Wood should have known Conner had “antisocial tendencies and was capable of murder.”

Hudson Wood was named in the lawsuit because he accepted the Woods’ estate unconditionally, and thus, the suit alleges, is liable for any responsibility the estate had for Conner Wood’s actions.

XYZ Insurance Company was named because the Woods had a homeowner’s policy that would have covered any liability issues that occurred on the property.

The Whittingtons also allege in the suit the defendants should have to pay for any emotional and mental anguish Matthew Whittington might have experienced due to the nature of his death.

Listed among the losses caused by the alleged wrongful death were “loss of love, affection and companionship of Matthew Whittington,” “loss of daily services, attention and emotional support provided by Matthew Whittington” and “mental pain, anguish, suffering and distress caused by the loss of Matthew Whittington.”

The suit was assigned to Judge Kathy Johnson, and the plaintiffs requested a trial by jury.

Conner Wood was indicted on charges of three counts of murder in May, but he has not yet gone to trial.

Wood initially pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, but soon thereafter changed his plea to “not guilty by reason of insanity.”

A sanity commission later found Wood competent to stand trial.

The Seventh District Judicial Court recently ruled that taped statements Wood made to investigators in the days following the murders in which he confessed to the crimes — though he changed his story between statements — could be used as evidence at trial.

Wood’s trial for the murder charges is set for April 14.