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Family of slain woman sues Clearwater Housing Authority

CLEARWATER — The family of a woman who was killed in a horrific murder two years ago is suing the Clearwater Housing Authority, alleging that security was lax at the public housing complex where the woman died.

Lashonda McKinnes, 25, was beaten, raped and repeatedly stabbed on June 10, 2007, in her bedroom at the Sable Walk Apartments on N Highland Avenue. An acquaintance, 35-year-old John Lee Hampton, is charged with first-degree murder in her death.

The wrongful-death lawsuit, filed by McKinnes' sister Maurice Mack, accuses the Housing Authority of negligence. It calls Sable Walk "a magnet for criminal activity," saying that police were called to the complex 3,035 times in the five years prior to McKinnes' murder.

The lawsuit says that Mc- Kinnes' daughter, Dejhanna, who was 6 years old at the time, was hiding in the apartment on the night her mother was killed, and witnessed parts of the attack.

The lawsuit also alleges that the lock on McKinnes' front door was inadequate.

"We expect the evidence will show that the dead-bolt lock was not working, and that a maintenance request had been submitted without an appropriate response," said Robert Potter, attorney for McKinnes' family.

Calls to the Housing Authority on Monday were not returned.

The lawsuit also targets the apartment complex's managers, Banyan Realty Management of Orlando.

Hampton has been in the Pinellas County Jail since his arrest just after the 2007 murder. His trial is pending.

Hampton was released from a Georgia prison in 2004 after serving 11 years for child molestation.

At the time of McKinnes' death, Hampton was wanted in Georgia on a kidnapping charge.

McKinnes, who went by the nickname "Peanut," knew Hampton through a friend, and he had been over to her apartment a few times.

On a Saturday night, June 9, 2007, McKinnes held a party for three people: a girlfriend, Hampton and another man. They played Tonk, a form of rummy. Everyone left by 1 a.m. or so.

According to an arrest affidavit, Hampton returned later to steal cocaine from McKinnes.

The affidavit says he stabbed her and poured lighter fluid on her body and cleaned her "to cover a possible sexual assault."

The lawsuit provides an even more graphic description of the attack on McKinnes, and mentions that the beating left her face crushed.

After witnessing this, Mc- Kinnes' daughter Dejhanna requires continuing psychiatric care, the lawsuit says.

"She saw at least portions of it," Potter said. "It's not something that's easy for her to talk about."

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

Family of slain woman sues Clearwater Housing Authority 06/08/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 8, 2009 8:31pm]
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