CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The mother of Lisa Marie Kimmell has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the man accused of killing her daughter more than 15 years ago, a Casper attorney said Friday.
Mark Gifford filed the civil suit Thursday on behalf of Sheila Kimmell in 7th District Court. A judge granted her permission this week to pursue civil litigation against Dale Wayne Eaton in her daughter's death.
Eaton, 58, was charged last month with first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and sexual assault in the death of Kimmell, 18, in March 1988. Her body was found in the North Platte River near Casper a week after she disappeared.
The Billings teen had been sexually assaulted, struck in the head and stabbed several times in the chest before her attacker threw her off a bridge.
Gifford said Sheila Kimmell is seeking unspecified monetary damages in the lawsuit, though she knows her prospects of ever collecting any money are slim.
"She just doesn't want there to be any prospect that Dale Wayne Eaton will ever profit from an expose or anything like that," Gifford said. "She'd like to put all this to an end and not have to worry about being revisited by this nightmare down the road."
Wyoming's statute of limitation normally gives parties just two years to file a wrongful death suit after someone dies.
"In this case, since we weren't able to identify the person responsible for her death until this year, the statute doesn't start to run until that person has been identified," Gifford said.
A wrongful death suit can be filed against someone not yet convicted of a crime because liability in criminal and civil cases are decided differently, Gifford said.
"The criminal cases have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and civil cases have to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a lower standard," he said.
Kimmell disappeared while driving from her temporary job in Denver to meet some friends and family in Billings. Her body was found near Casper on April 2, 1988.
A routine check of Wyoming's DNA database revived the investigation last summer. Natrona County sheriff's officials later unearthed Kimmell's Honda CRX on Eaton's property near Moneta in July.
Gazette reporter Greg Tuttle contributed to this story.