LITTLE ROCK — The Joint Budget Committee on Thursday upheld a recommended $1 million settlement with the family of a man who in 2009 was shot and killed by a teenager released from state custody two months earlier.
Approval of the claim occurred after John Selig, director of the state Department of Human Services, said the settlement would have to be paid out of the department’s Division of Youth Services budget and would mean cutting funds to community services providers.
On June 30, 2009, 67-year-old Maurice "Beau" Clark was shot and killed inside his home. Antonio Terry, 16, later pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and aggravated robbery and was sentenced to 65 years in prison.
Terry had been released from DYS custody two months before Clark was killed, despite concerns raised by several staff members.
The state Claims Commission later found DYS liable in Clark’s death and awarded the family $1.5 million.
Joint Budget’s claims subcommittee met earlier this month and after a hearing reduced the award to $500,000. Some committee members asked that the claim be considered again because several members were unable to attend.
The subcommittee met again Wednesday and after a hearing agreed on a $1 million settlement.
During Thursday’s Joint Budget meeting, Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Little Rock, expressed frustration when Selig told lawmakers of the impact the settlement would have on DYS finances.
Sen. Larry Teagie, D-Nashville, co-chairman of the committee, reminded Selig that a claims settlement bill before the committee does allow a department that can’t afford to pay the claim from its current budget to tap into next year’s budget for some or all of the money.
Selig said he was unaware that was in the bill.
Hutchinson also said he was concerned that the budget committee was once again questioning a claim heard by the subcommittee. He noted that earlier this year the budget panel rejected a recommended $1 million award to the family of a Bentonville boy who was killed in 2011 when a soccer goal fell on him at school.
DHS and the family later reached a $375,000 settlement, which stipulated a number of reforms by the state.
"I mean, we might as well do away with the subcommittee," Hutchinson said.
The budget committee approved the $1 million recommendation to the Clark family on a voice vote.