Jury Deliberates VT Wrongful Death Case

Reporter: David Tate

Christiansburg, VA - It is day eight in the wrongful death trial against Virginia Tech and the Commonwealth, and it all now lies in the hands of the jury.

Wednesday morning both sides gave closing arguments, bringing testimony in the case to a close.

Now the seven members of the jury will decide whether VT officials were negligent April 16, 2007 by failing to sound the alarm following the initial double murder on campus that day.

After receiving instructions from the judge, the jury listened to both sides make their final points, which took more than two hours in all.

The jury needs to decide whether the university should have reasonably foresaw that the violence that day would extend to Norris Hall more than two hours later, and if so, was the university negligent in not issuing a timely warning.

"The decision not to let the campus know about the homicide in order to protect the emotional edge of a distant parent resulted in the deaths of 30 more kids including the daughters of these two families," said Bob Hall, the plaintiff's co-attorney.

"The judge said there is an obligation to warn when it is reasonably foreseeable that another criminal assault is going to occur," said Peter Messitt, assistant attorney general.

The jury has a second big order to fill if they do find against the commonwealth. They will then have to decide how much the two families will receive, up to $10 million even though that is just procedural because there is a cap on how much you can sue the state in this case, which is set at $100,000.