YELLVILLE — Two children of the man who was shot and killed in Omaha in August have filed for an injunction to stop the suspect, the victim’s wife, from liquidating family property.
The official file in the criminal case was still sealed as of Tuesday afternoon, online court records show.
Prosecuting Attorney David Ethredge said Linda LaFee, 61, of Omaha has been formally charged with first-degree murder in the Sept. 24 shooting death of her husband, 63-year-old Richard LaFee.
The prosecutor went on to say that there are aspects of the investigation pending and police are still working those leads. Authorities fear that some of those leads could dry up if details are released before the investigation is completed.
KayAnn LaFee and her brother, Levi LaFee, both of Branson, Missouri, filed for a restraining order against Linda LaFee last Thursday, Aug. 24, in Boone County Circuit Court.
The lawsuit said KayAnn LaFee and Levi LaFee are the beneficiaries of the LaFee Family Living Trust dated 2009, along with a half-brother, Joshua L. Stafford.
They allege that Linda LaFee, who is still held in the Boone County Jail, has enabled and requested a relative to help her sell the property that belongs to the trust.
Because she is incarcerated, Linda LaFee would legally have 60 days in which to answer the lawsuit from the time she is served, which would be “more than ample time” to liquidate the property.
As such, KayAnn LaFee and Levi LaFee requested the court issue an immediate emergency restraining order against Linda LaFee barring her or anyone named power of attorney from having access to property in the trust. They claim that because she is incarcerated and likely will be for a lengthy period of time, she has no legitimate need to access the property.
“Irreparable harm will occur in the absence of a [temporary restraining order] as defendant will be free to liquidate the trust and the assets that should belong to the defendant’s estate without it, even though she killed [Richard LaFee] unlawfully,” the lawsuit alleges.
Circuit Judge Andrew Bailey did sign a temporary restraining order the same day the suit was filed, but a hearing was scheduled for Tuesday in Yellville where Bailey was holding court Tuesday.
KayAnn LaFee and Levi LaFee appeared in person Tuesday with their attorney, Harrison lawyer Joe Hoke. Linda LaFee appeared via Skype from the Boone County Jail and a woman who identified herself as Linda LaFee’s niece and power of attorney also appeared in person before Judge Bailey.
After Hoke made the arguments from the complaint, Bailey addressed Linda LaFee.
He asked her if she was familiar with the complaint and if she had an attorney for the civil case. She said she had read the suit, but did not have a lawyer at the time.
Bailey then asked if she had a lawyer in the criminal case, but she again said she didn’t.
Bailey then informed Linda LaFee that she couldn’t be compelled to testify to anything in the civil case that might incriminate her in the criminal case, and that anything she did say could be used against her in the criminal trial.
Her niece said that she found that Linda and Richard LaFee’s bills were past due and she had been trying to pay them, although she didn’t have access to their marital bank accounts. She said she wasn’t sure what they owned, but the property would be sold to hire a lawyer.
Bailey said that Linda LaFee would be eligible for a public defender if she couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer, and that the value of any estate should be discovered.
“If we’re fighting over nothing, we need to know that,” Bailey said.
The judge went on to say that under Arkansas law no one can benefit from the death of a person if they caused the death of that person.
Bailey ruled that the temporary restraining order would remain in place until a hearing scheduled for Oct. 22 in Harrison. He also ordered Linda LaFee’s niece to counsel with Hoke regarding the value of the estate. He also encouraged Linda LaFee to secure a lawyer before the Oct. 22 hearing.
KayAnn LaFee and Levi LaFee declined comment to the Daily Times as they left the courthouse Tuesday, but Hoke issued the following statement on their behalf:
“Arkansas law prohibits a person who wrongfully causes the death of another person to inherit from the deceased person’s estate. Linda LaFee is facing first-degree murder charges for the shooting death of her husband, Richard LaFee. My clients, who are Richard’s children, sought an injunction to protect the assets of their father’s estate while the criminal case against Linda is pending. The Court made the right decision today to maintain the injunction, preventing Linda from spending Richard’s funds or controlling his assets until a proper investigation can be completed. My clients appreciate the community support they’ve received, and they request continued privacy while they grieve the death of their father.”