A judge has ruled that a civil lawsuit stemming from an ambush robbery turned fatal shooting of a pizza parlor assistant manager can proceed even as criminal charges surrounding the nearly 3-year-old case remain unresolved.
Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate handed down the order Monday in response to a motion from the defense attorney for 20-year-old Victorya Paige Young, who has pleaded guilty to her role in the December 2016 death of 21-year-old Jared Banta, to postpone civil litigation regarding the fatal shooting so it does not interfere with criminal proceedings. Wingate denied the request.
Young’s defense attorney, Jane Higgins, argued that it is a “well established legal principle” that civil action is postponed until criminal charges arising from the same incident are resolved. She cited several factors, including a potential for prejudice.
“Courts have consistently found good cause to issue a protective order staying civil discovery when a related criminal proceeding is pending in order to prevent the use of broad civil discovery to sidestep the rules governing criminal proceedings,” Higgins wrote. “Additionally, the greater the overlap of issues between the civil and criminal lawsuit, the more likely that allowing the civil discovery will jeopardize the integrity of the criminal proceeding.”
She said the civil and criminal cases are "nearly identical."
Wingate disagreed, saying that Young has admitted her guilt in the criminal case and merely awaits sentencing.
“The Court finds no need to stay the civil matter, because Defendant Young has already entered a plea that determined her guilt,” Wingate wrote. “Therefore, the sentencing is irrelevant to the matter at hand, and the court will not stay discovery or other proceedings in this matter.”
Young is among three defendants with pending dispositions in the criminal case.
She had admitted to arranging the ambush robbery at Country Hills Apartments, 565 Schenkel Lane, that led to the fatal shooting of Banta.
Young, who faced life in prison, pleaded guilty to second-degree complicity to robbery and a lesser charge of second-degree complicity to manslaughter, both Class C felonies. She now faces up to 20 years in prison and has agreed to testify in the cases of Kedrick Burton, 22, and Krishaun Mays, 20. Her sentencing will be postponed until after their trials.
Mays and Burton each still faces charges that could result in life in prison if they are convicted. Mays, the alleged triggerman, is charged with murder, a capital offense, and first-degree robbery, a Class B felony. Burton is charged with complicity to murder, a capital offense, and complicity to robbery, a Class B felony. A trial date has not been scheduled.
According to court documents, Young told investigators that she and two other women wanted to rob Banta and use the money to go shopping in Lexington shortly after Christmas in 2016. Young reportedly lured Banta to Country Hills Apartments, where there were no security cameras nearby, under the guise of a marijuana deal.
She got into the front seat of Banta’s vehicle, and Mays and Burton later allegedly got into the back seat. The two men then robbed Banta at gunpoint, and Mays allegedly fired the fatal shot into Banta’s torso, police allege.
His body was discovered in the vehicle the following morning.
Ann Banta, Jared's mother, filed a civil lawsuit almost two years to the day after her son's death against the accused participants, some of their parents and the apartment complex where it occurred.
Higgins also argued that since the civil case was only filed six months ago, postponing the lawsuit would not cause prejudice against the plaintiff because it has not been pending long.