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Man facing first-degree murder trail loses wrongful death lawsuit

John Thompson • Sep 13, 2019 at 11:25 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Jon Christopher Ralph, 51, is still facing a first-degree murder trial in the death of his mother, Edith Betty Ralph, 78, but a civil case accusing him of wrongful death has ended with a judge ordering him to pay $600,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

The case in Carter County Circuit Court, John L. Febuary vs. John Christopher Ralph, was decided on Sept. 10 by Judge Jean A. Stanley. The judge said the evidence presented at trial was convincing that “John Christopher Ralph intentionally, deliberately, and maliciously caused the wrongful death of Edith Betty Ralph by shooting her with a handgun in the head and other regions of her body multiple times.”

Stanley found that Febuary was entitled to $300,000 in compensatory damage and another $300,000 in punitive damages.

Febuary is the sole surviving sibling of Mrs. Ralph. Febuary also serves as the court-appointed personal representative of his sister’s estate in the ongoing case in Carter County Probate Court. The court held its latest session on the matter Sept. 5.

There are two separate cases in Probate Court. One instated Febuary as the personal representative and the second sought to have him removed. The second one has been dismissed by Chancellor John Rambo.

The Probate Court documents allege that on April 6, 2019, John Christopher Ralph shot his mother four times with a .40-caliber pistol in the house that they shared on Reynolds Road in Carter County.

John Christopher Ralph fled to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. He was reportedly waiting to board a plane for Amsterdam when he was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and U.S. marshals.

The Reynolds Road house and property is assessed by the county at $129,000. A property deed field in the Register of Deeds Office in Carter County indicates that Mrs. Ralph conveyed the house and property to John Christopher Ralph, her only child, on Oct. 20, 2004. She retained a life estate on the property and house for herself.

The wrongful death lawsuit claims that the death of Mrs Ralph extinguished the life estate that she held on the property and her son became the record owner of the property.

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