WOMAN SUING MURDER VICTIM'S ESTATE, WIDOW : LETTING IN SUSPECTS CALLED NEGLIGENT.
A woman who was tortured and beaten in a drug robbery in which her boyfriend was killed is suing the dead man's estate and wife, claiming he was negligent in allowing the attackers into the house.
Tresheva Sherouse, 23, is seeking nearly $2 million in damages in a lawsuit filed against the estate of Anthony Readell Hogan, who was killed by reputed gang members in search of money and drugs at Hogan's Lancaster house.
``Our contention is that Mr. Hogan could have done something to have prevented the injuries,'' said Lawrence Hoodack, Sherouse's attorney. ``I feel his judgment was not what it should have been concerning people getting into the home. Surely a reasonable person would find out who's there before you open the door.''
The lawsuit was filed in September against Hogan's estate and Hogan's wife, Valena Hogan, from whom he was separated at the time of his death. The attackers also are listed as defendants but are not identified, court records show.
Attorneys for Hogan's estate are challenging the lawsuit, saying it is ``vague and ambiguous'' and lacks sufficient facts. A hearing is scheduled for September in Lancaster Superior Court.
``I do not believe it (the lawsuit) has merit,'' said Maureen Thomas, the attorney representing Hogan's estate. ``I don't think there was anything my client could have done to prevent what occurred. It's a real tragedy. There are no facts to support the claim that my client was negligent in any way.''
Hogan, 27, and Sherouse were discovered by a friend on the morning of March 23, 1995, in the living room of Hogan's house in the 3500 block of West Avenue K-10. They had both been tortured, beaten, bound and gagged. Hogan also had been burned.
Sherouse was hospitalized in a coma. She has since come out of the coma and has been released from the hospital, officials said.
Four men have been charged in the murder of Hogan and the attempted murder of Sherouse, who lived in the Antelope Valley at the time. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Los Angeles Municipal Court.
``(Hogan) was able to see through a window located adjacent to the front door that there were three people who were requesting entrance into said house,'' papers in the lawsuit say. ``(Hogan) knew, or should have known, that the three people requesting entrance into said house posed a dangerous condition.''
The lawsuit states that all homeowners are responsible for the injuries that occur to a person on their property, and it asserts: ``(Hogan) negligently acted and/or refused to take appropriate action, which resulted in (Sherouse) being assaulted and sustaining severe personal injuries.''
Hoodack said Sherouse believes she was hit in the head with a dumbbell during the attack. Knocked unconscious, she was in a coma for nearly a month and was hospitalized for about three months.
Thomas responded that, as a general rule, one has no duty to control the conduct of another or to warn those endangered by such conduct, records show.
``Under traditional principles of tort law, one is ordinarily not liable for the actions of another and is under no duty to protect another from harm in the absence of a special relationship of custody or control,'' the response states.
``Further, a duty to take affirmative action to control the wrongful acts of a third party will be imposed only where such conduct can be reasonably anticipated,'' records show.
Thomas argues that the owner of property is not an insurer of safety of people on the premises and that the lawsuit fails to provide any basis for the charge that Hogan should have known that the attackers posed a threat.
``It is not a common lawsuit. It's an unusual lawsuit with unusual circumstances,'' Thomas said. ``You don't see this very often.''
Charged with murder, attempted murder and robbery are Kevin Simmons, 31, Archie Dixon, 28, and Robert Adams, 23, of Duarte; and Tommy Simmons III, 35, of Lancaster, who lived down the street from Hogan. All of the suspects but Dixon are half-brothers, officials said.
Sheriff's homicide detectives said the assailants wanted to steal drugs and money from Hogan, who authorities say was a marijuana dealer. One or two of the suspects had dealt with Hogan before, detectives said.
Hoodack said he believes, based on the information he has, that Hogan did not know the people who entered the house. In addition, Hoodack said Sherouse remembers seeing three people, two men and a woman, in the house before she lost consciousness.
The assailants found marijuana but did not find the money. Sheriff's deputies found a substantial amount of cash under the bed on the floor, deputies said.
The charges were filed last month by prosecutors in the district attorney's unit dealing with hard-core gang cases. Prosecutors contend there is a special circumstance - that the murder was committed during a robbery - making the suspects eligible for the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
All of the defendants except for Dixon were already in prison on various drug charges when they were identified as suspects. Dixon was arrested April 6 at the Oakland International Airport after detectives followed Dixon's girlfriend, who flew up there to meet Dixon, officials said.
Investigators said they recovered a bag of marijuana in a car Dixon was driving, and the bag had Hogan's fingerprints on it. Without saying who the witnesses were, detectives said witnesses saw people leaving Hogan's home and were able to make identifications.
Hogan's Oldsmobile Cutlass was found later on the day of the killing, abandoned in the driveway of a Pico Rivera business, deputies said. A neighbor reported seeing someone other than Hogan drive the vehicle away about 8:30 a.m., approximately an hour before the friend entered Hogan's home.