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More than 13 years after Lebron Gaither's murder, the Kentucky Board of Claims has found the Kentucky State Police liable in his death. The Board of Claims issued a final order Dec. 8 in which the board ruled that the police were liable for $168,729.90 in damages.
LeBron Gaither was 17 years old when he was killed July 17, 1996, in Casey County near the Casey-Taylor County line. Gaither had been working as a drug informant for the state police. In the days prior to his death, he had testified before grand juries in Marion and Taylor counties.
According to the final order, a member of the Taylor County grand jury informed Jason Noel of Gaither's identity.
The state troopers who Gaither was working with had set up a buy between Gaither and Noel the day after Gaither's testimony in Taylor County. Noel left the scene where he met Gaither with Gaither in the car.
Gaither's body was later found in Casey County. He had been beaten, stabbed, shot and dragged, according to the final order.
Noel is serving a life sentence for Gaither's murder. Other people were convicted on related charges for their involvement in Gaither's death.
For Gaither's family, the Board of Claims decision offered some final justice for him.
"The family is pleased with the decision, but it doesn't replace him by any means," said Shawn Gaither, Lebron's brother.
Dan Taylor, the attorney from Louisville who has represented the Gaither family for 13 years, said the Board of Claims should be commended for its decision.
He added that there needs to be accountability for law enforcement, and he encouraged the legislature to pass laws regulating the use of confidential informants.
Lt. David Jude, the spokesperson for the state police, said they would seek to appeal the Board of Claims decision. Before the state police can seek an appeal, however, they must first seek permission from the Attorney General's office (under KRS 44.140).
Look for more on the Board of Claims decision in the Dec. 16 print edition of The Lebanon Enterprise.