Trachsel's widow files lawsuit

October 17, 2004|TODD KLEFFMAN

The widow of a Danville man who allegedly was shot to death by his neighbor in August has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Boyle County Circuit Court.

Bonnie E. Trachsel of 451 Boone Trail filed the civil action against Jack Caldwell Sr. and several family members and their spouses, alleging that Caldwell "acted intentionally and willfully and with malice and oppression" in the Aug. 22 shooting death of James D. Trachsel.

The lawsuit asks for an unspecified amount of damages for pain and suffering, medical and funeral expenses, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of income and attorneys' fees. The suit was filed by Danville attorneys Ed Hays and Vincent Pennington.

Caldwell, 79, has been indicted for murder in the death of James Trachsel, who was shot five times while operating his riding lawnmower near a property line the two men shared. Police said they believe the shooting was triggered by a long-running dispute between the two men over property lines and drainage problems.


Caldwell pleaded not guilty in Boyle District Court but was indicted by a grand jury earlier this month, moving his case up to circuit court. His arraignment in the higher court is set for Nov. 1.

Caldwell's attorneys have maintained that he was out in his yard with a rifle hunting for a skunk that was seen in the neighborhood, and acted in self-defense when Trachsel startled him from behind on his lawnmower.

Caldwell has posted a $250,000 cash bond and is living with his son, Robert Caldwell, in Lancaster

Caldwells transfer their interest in their property

In her civil lawsuit, Bonnie Trachsel also asks the court to declare "null and void" the transfer of Jack Caldwell's house and property on Boone Trail to his four children. Caldwell and his wife, Barbara Caldwell, conveyed their half-interest in the property to the children on Aug. 30, eight days after Trachsel was killed.

"In anticipation of this civil action," Caldwell sold the property at less than fair-market value to his children so that it would not be used to satisfy any settlement, the lawsuit alleges.

"When he made this transfer, the defendant was under financial embarrassment and in anticipation of insolvency," the lawsuit states. "The transfer was made with the intent to delay, hinder or defraud the plaintiff and her attempt to enforce and collect upon her claim for the wrongful death of James D. Trachsel."

Along with Jack Caldwell Sr. and Robert Caldwell, the lawsuit also names Jack Caldwell Jr., Debbie Caldwell, Belinda Caldwell and John T. Caldwell as defendants.

The Caldwells have not responded to the lawsuit.

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