Billy Hembree, et al vs. State

Billy Hembree, et al vs. State
Lester Peavyhouse, having been found not guilty by reason of insanity after an April 1985 attack upon his sister with a hatchet, was committed by the Circuit Court of Stewart County to the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute ("MTMHI") in Nashville for involuntary care and treatment on March 1, 1988. In January 1989, he was transferred from MTMHI to Luton Community Mental Health Center subject to a mandatory outpatient therapy plan. In July 1989, he was transferred to Vanderbilt Mental Health Center Adult Outpatient Services section. Ultimately, Peavyhouse enrolled as a student at Austin Peay State University with out patient therapy through Harriet Cohn Center in Clarksville. On October 31, 1991, Peavyhouse entered a private residence in Clarksville with a .410 gauge shotgun and shot to death Misty Harding and Billy Hembree, seriously wounded David Ross and Robert Huff, and committed aggravated assaults upon Charity Baggett, Deanna Shepherd, Walter Scott Palmer, and Jeffery Underwood. Peavyhouse was convicted on all charges and sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison plus fifty-six years. The estates of Harding and Hembree, together with the other victims of the October 31, 1991 assaults, brought suit against the State of Tennessee before the Tennessee Claims Commission charging MTMHI with negligence in the January 23, 1989 release of Peavyhouse from a secure treatment facility. The Tennessee Claims Commission rendered judgment in favor of the claimants and the State of Tennessee Appeals. We affirm the judgment of the Claims Commission.
Authoring Judge: 
Judge William B. Cain
Date Filed: 
Wednesday, May 30, 2001