Whitesburg KY
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Couple charged with murder sued here by family of victim

The family of a Letcher County man who was brutally murdered last September is seeking civil justice against the couple charged with committing the crime.

A civil lawsuit filed in Letcher Circuit Court last month says the family of Jackie Von Quillen should be awarded compensatory and punitive damages against David Shawn Slaven, 31, and his wife, Misty Michelle Franks Slaven, 33, “for the great physical and mental pain, suffering, and emotional distress” they caused when they murdered Quillen by choking him with a nylon strap on Sept. 3, 2006.

Quillen, 69, of Colson, was renting a home to the Slavens at the time the murder took place. Quillen’s body was found the day after he was reported missing by his family – hidden near the dam of an old pay-to-fish lake in Craft’s Colly at Ermine. Robbery was the apparent motive.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against the Slavens when they are tried in criminal court.

The civil suit was filed by Jackie Quillen’s son, Jack Quillen, who is the administrator of his father’s estate.

The complaint says that “on or about August 30 (or August 31), 2006, David Shawn Slaven and Misty Michelle Slaven entered the residence of Jackie Von Quillen at Colson and did intentionally assault, beat, strangle, and suffocate Jackie Von Quillen, thereby causing his death.”

The suit says the “acts of (the Slavens) against Jackie Von Quillen were willful and/or so egregious that they rose to the level of gross negligence.”

Each of the Slavens has admitted to having some part in the crime. Letcher Circuit Judge Sam Wright ordered a psychological evaluation of David Slaven recently after Slaven wrote a letter to Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison Banks, in which Slaven claims he was solely responsible for the murder. David Slaven made similar claims during a jail interview with a Mountain Eagle reporter earlier this year. Shortly after his arrest, however, David Slaven told authorities that Misty Slaven smoked a cigarette while using her foot to hold Jackie Quillen’s head under water in an effort to make sure he was dead.

The civil suit also asks that the Quillen family be awarded damages from the Slavens to cover the cost of funeral expenses incurred and the “permanent impairment” of Quillen’s power to earn money.

The Quillen family is being represented by Whitesburg attorney Gene Smallwood Jr.

Whitesburg attorneys James W. Craft II and Jeanne Channell have been appointed by the court as guardians ad litem to notify the Slavens, who are being held in the Letcher County Jail under bonds of $1 million, of “the nature and pendency of” the action against them.

David Slaven responded to the civil suit with a handwritten motion asking that the action be held “in abeyance” until the criminal case is finished.

Slaven said he “cannot respond to the civil action without forfeiting his constitutional rights.”

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