TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka woman who has had eight major surgeries to rebuild her face after she survived two shotgun blasts has been awarded nearly $12 million in damages against the man convicted of trying to kill her.
Kansas laws that limit damages for noneconomic losses in civil lawsuits will reduce the amount awarded by a Shawnee County jury to Rochelle Chatfield to slightly less than $1.9 million, Chatfield’s lawyer said.
But Chatfield, who will undergo more operations, expressed gratitude to the jurors — one of whom fainted during Thursday’s trial upon seeing photos of the bloody shooting scene, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
“I am so thankful to my attorneys and the jury. This verdict will enable me to pay bills and get the medical treatment I need,” Chatfield said in a statement issued through her lawyer, Dustin DeVaughn.
Chatfield filed the lawsuit against Robert L. Brown, who was convicted last year of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in the June 2012 attack at his south Topeka home. Brown, who chose not to attend the civil trial, has been sentenced to 20 years and seven months in prison.
During the criminal trial, Chatfield testified that Brown had met with her several times and lured her to his house, hinting that it might be for sale.
Chatfield said she brought $15,000 in cash as a possible down payment on June 15, 2012. Brown gave her a drink and offered her marijuana, which she declined, she testified.
Brown hit her on the head, beat her and shot her twice in the face with a shotgun as she fled toward the front door, Chatfield said. She testified that he also robbed her of the cash, two diamond rings, diamond earrings, a gold watch and a tennis bracelet.
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