Church settles wrongful death lawsuit



The Cape Gazette reports…

“The family of Nicole Bennett has reached a $500,000 settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit against Bay Shore Community Church, the Rev. Danny Tice and Bennett’s accused killer, Matthew Burton.

Delaware Superior Court Judge Andrea Andrea Rocanelli approved the settlement May 12 before putting it under seal.

According to court documents, the settlement gives Bennett’s three children -ages 13, 8 and 3 – $25,000 each. Her husband, Kevin, will receive $392,000. Attorney’s fees of $130,000 will come from his share.

The settlement also includes a $33,000 waiver of a worker’s compensation claim. The settlement says the children will receive all of their shares of the money.

Kevin Bennett will serve as custodian for accounts set up for each child until the children turn 21.

Bob Bennett, Kevin’s father, said the family could not comment due to a confidentiality agreement that was part of the case. Representatives of the church did not respond to a request for comment.

The Bennett family accused the church and its pastor, Tice, of negligence in allowing Burton to work as a custodian at the church despite knowing Burton was a sex offender. The church later terminated Burton’s employment because of his criminal history, but officials allowed him to continue working there for two more weeks. During that two-week period, Burton is alleged to have murdered Bennett and dumped her body in Maryland.

Burton was at first extradited to Maryland before police determined the crime took place in Delaware. Burton fought extradition back to Delaware, where he could face the death penalty, for more than two years before he was returned to the First State in February. Burton is scheduled to stand trial in June 2016.

Bennett, who was 35 at the time of her death, was found dead June 15, 2012 on an embankment off of Swamp Road in Worcester County, Md. An autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore determined she had been asphyxiated.

Kevin Bennett reported her missing when she did not come home from working at the Gumboro church on June 14, 2012. Bennett’s car was found at the church and police later learned Burton was also there that night. DNA evidence collected by Maryland state forensic technicians tied Burton to the crime. U.S. Marshals arrested Burton July 6, 2012, on Route 1 near Rehoboth Beach.”


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