On Tuesday, cable company Spectrum was ordered to pay more than $7 billion for failing to properly vet a cable technician who murdered a customer in Texas in 2019.
Ray Holden Jr. was off-duty when he fatally stabbed Betty Thomas, 83, in her Las Colinas residence, but he had performed work at her home a day earlier. The Register reported that Holden came to the home in his work uniform and van — the latter he used a keycard to access despite being off duty.
In June, a Dallas County jury found Spectrum was responsible for paying 90 percent of $357 million in compensatory damages. This week, the jury awarded $7 billion in punitive damages to Thomas’ family.
In 2020, Thomas’ family filed a lawsuit against Charter Communications, the company that owns Spectrum. They claimed the company failed to investigate false claims made by Holden regarding his employment history. According to WFAA, Holden was previously fired for forgery, harassing co-workers, and falsifying documents.
Holden is serving a life sentence for Thomas’ murder, which he pleaded guilty to in April 2021. He is believed to have killed Thomas with a company-supplied utility knife after she caught him stealing bank cards from her purse. He reportedly used one of her cards at a Walmart hours after the slaying.
Attorneys also alleged that Spectrum ignored a pattern of theft by their employees. Before Thomas’ murder, Holden allegedly told his bosses that he was indigent and desperate after a divorce. Holden also started crying at work and, at one point, believed he was a football player for the Dallas Cowboys, according to The Register.
During the civil trial, it was revealed that Holden had insomnia and was likely sleeping overnight in his work van. Evidence suggested that he began stealing from elderly customers after breaking down at work.
After Thomas’ murder, Spectrum allegedly sent her family a bill — which included a $58 charge for Holden’s visit. The Register reported that the unpaid bill was ultimately forwarded to a collection agency.
Spectrum was also accused of ignoring authorities’ requests to preserve evidence. A security executive testified that the company was not explicitly obligated to be forthcoming with police or cooperate with their investigation, according to WFAA.
A Charter spokesperson told The Register that the company will appeal Tuesday’s judgment.
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[Featured image: Roy Holden Jr./Irving Police Department; Betty Thomas/Facebook]