Widow of slain Lexington businessman files wrongful-death lawsuit

HARRODSBURG — The widow of a Lexington businessman who was shot to death nearly a year ago has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant.

Maryann Dacci of Lexington, administrator of John "Bud" Dacci's estate, says in a suit filed in Mercer Circuit Court that she is entitled to damages for pain and suffering, medical and funeral expenses, destruction of her husband's earning capacity, and other damages from James Kelley, 53.

Kelley was indicted this year in the Dec. 21 death of John Dacci, 54. The two were former business partners in Dacci's Heating and Air Conditioning in Lexington.

In the lawsuit, Maryann Dacci also seeks compensation for "trespass, assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress" and "outrageous conduct."

The lawsuit filed late last month also seeks punitive damages "and all other damages to which she may be entitled."

It is not uncommon for criminal defendants to face civil complaints, such as a wrongful death suit. The criminal case usually proceeds first, and when it is completed, the civil case advances. If a defendant loses both, he might do jail or prison time and pay compensation to the survivors.

Even if a defendant is not convicted of the crime, he or she might be found liable in a civil case. A notable national example was the case of O.J. Simpson. He was acquitted of murder in 1995, but a jury in 1997 found him liable in the civil lawsuit brought by the families of the murder victims, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

In the Mercer County criminal case, Kelley also was indicted on charges of first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and first-degree assault, and accused of shooting Maryann Dacci at the Dacci house near Herrington Lake.

According to court records, Kelley forced his way into the house and shot John Dacci; Maryann Dacci tried to escape, but Kelley prevented her from doing so and then shot her. When Kelley fled, Maryann Dacci called 911.

Kelley is at the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center at LaGrange for an evaluation.

On Dec. 22, the day after John Dacci died, a police search for Kelley ended after he shot himself in the head outside Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center in Richmond. Kelley suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Mercer Circuit Court Judge Darren Peckler found Kelley incompetent to stand trial in July but said Kelley might become competent. According to an order filed in September, Kelley is to be re-examined on or before Dec. 22, 2011, and another competency hearing is to be held on or before July 5, 2012, to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.

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