Widow Of Byron De La Beckwith Wins Jury Verdict

Sunday, July 7, 2002

Thelma Neff Beckwith, the widow of Byron De La Beckwith, has been awarded $175,000 in punitive damages by a Hamilton County Chancery Court jury.

The two-day trial and jury verdict also set aside a deed from Mrs. Beckwith to Judy Skiba, the defendant in the case.

Mrs. Beckwith was 92 years old at the time she signed a deed to property she owned on Wilson Avenue on Signal Mountain. The jury found that the deed was procured by "fraud and undue influence" on Mrs. Beckwith by Ms. Skiba.

Attorney Mitchell Byrd said Ms. Skiba had befriended Mrs. Beckwith after she (Ms. Skiba) was released from prison in Georgia. He said Ms. Skiba shared the "political views" of Mrs. Beckwith's late husband, who was convicted of the civil rights murder of Medgar Evers in Mississippi. Mr. Beckwith died in prison in Mississippi in January 2001.

Attorney Byrd told the Chancery Court jury that the case was an "old story of racism, hatred, bitterness and greed" by Ms. Skiba. He urged the jury to "send a message to all those like Judy Skiba in our community and state that this abuse of trust and fraud toward the helpless, oppressed and elderly would not be tolerated in our community."

Attorney Byrd said, "It is the responsibility of a trial lawyer to use the system of jury trial for not only the cause of his client, but in proper circumstances to extend the principles of justice beyond the particular facts of the case. This punitive verdict should be viewed by those who abuse others, whether it be a spouse, a child or as in this case, a 92-year-old woman, that our community and legal system will not tolerate such abuses. They will be punished severely by both the criminal and the civil systems of law that we trial lawyers respect so much."

Mr. Byrd continued, "The jury system is still the best realm of protection for wrongs done to all our citizens. It must be protected and cherished as one of our greatest rights through history and into the future. This was not a 'run away' verdict. The 12 men and women who decided this case certainly rose to the occasion in patriotism, compassion, justice and fairness."



Top Hamilton County School Salaries 2017

Here are the top salaries at the Hamilton County Schools for central office personnel and principals: (click for more)

Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

We send out headlines each day of the latest Chattanooga news.  Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there is a highly significant local news story breaking so you will be aware of it quickly. To be added to the email headline list, just email us at news@chattanoogan.com In addition, like us ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Myth And Fact Check

My husband and I recently had the privilege of participating in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Chattanooga. I listened as my husband told the audience about how his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was nine and how she died from the disease when he was fourteen. As a child, my husband didn’t understand what breast cancer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Evil This Way Comes

There is a line in Act IV of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, as some of the 20,000 students at Middle Tennessee State are taught, that reads: "By the pricking of my thumbs / Something wicked this way comes." The professors explain that in the 16 th century the “pricking of thumbs” meant an intuition of evil about to happen and every student at MTSU knows several white supremacy ... (click for more)

UT Coach: Tennessee Not OK Being 3-4; Butch Jones Not OK Being 3-4

Embattled Tennessee football coach Butch Jones met with members of the media on Monday, a couple of days after the Vols lost to Alabama, 45-7. It was Tennessee’s fourth loss in five games and UT is an early 5 ½-point underdog to rival Kentucky on Saturday. The Vols are 31-1 against Kentucky since 1985, with the only loss, a 10-7 defeat, coming in 2011. Tennessee leads the overall ... (click for more)

No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs Aim To Break Losing Streak Against Florida In Jacksonville Saturday

On the surface, Georgia would seem to have a lot going for it heading into Saturday’s game against Florida in Jacksonville, a site that hasn’t been too kind for the team in red and black over the last quarter of a century. The third-ranked Bulldogs enter having won its last three games by an average margin of victory of 32.3 points. Florida needs a win to avoid its third ... (click for more)