The civil lawsuit brought by the relatives of an 83-year-old woman who was found dead in her Irving home began last week. Betty Thomas’ family filed a civil lawsuit against Charter Communications after one of its employees allegedly murdered the woman.
Local police responded to a call of an unconscious person in the 3000 block of East Cortez Court on December 12, 2019, at approximately 6 p.m.
Upon arrival, officers found Thomas at the scene with multiple stab wounds. Police said she died before officers arrived.
Officers arrested 45-year-old Roy Holden on December 13, 2019, in connection to Thomas’ murder.
On December 11, 2019, Holden, an employee of the utility service provider, had been to Thomas’ house to help her with a problem with her Spectrum services. However, Holden allegedly went back to Thomas’ home the next day and killed her.
During investigations, Holden told Irving detectives that he had stopped at Thomas’ Irving home in the Las Colinas neighborhood because he was broke.
“She said something, and I couldn’t understand what it was that she said,” Holden told detectives, according to lawsuit documents. “And it made me mad. So that’s when I walk out the door. Then I come back in the house again. And she said something again, and I got irritated. And then that’s when I did it.”
Holden pleaded guilty to the murder and was sentenced to life in prison in April 2021.
Thomas’ family is now suing Charter Communications, which operates as Spectrum cable, for alleged negligence and recklessness in the employment of Holden.
Lawyers for the family argued in their opening statement that Holden, going through a divorce, had indicated he was in distress. Lawyers argued that this fact should have raised red flags for executives at the utility service provider.
Ray Khirallah, the family’s attorney, said that Holden experienced insomnia and frequent crying spells during his divorce.
Khirallah added that Holden at one point thought he was a former Dallas Cowboys player whose career was ruined after he became paralyzed. The attorney argued that Spectrum had too many chances to act before sending Holden to Thomas’ house.
Attorneys for the family also argued that Spectrum did not run a proper background check on Holden that would have verified his employment history as Holden’s resume was fabricated. He had been fired from several jobs before working at Spectrum.
The plaintiff’s attorney added that Holden, a field technician, had been accused of at least two thefts while on the job.
“The family brings this suit to make sure this never happens again,” Khirallah said.
Spectrum’s lawyers argued that, before the murder, Holden did not appear unsafe to customers. Defense lawyers also cited the many positive reviews that Holden got from customers.
Contrary to the family’s claim, the defense lawyers claimed that Spectrum gave Holden the right amount of attention and support when he needed them.
Edward Davis, an attorney for Spectrum, revealed during opening arguments that Holden had requested more work to take his mind off his divorce. However, the 45-year-old’s supervisor blocked him from getting other assignments after Thomas’ job.
“We are asking you to place 100% of the blame on Roy Holden,” Davis told jurors, “which the state of Texas has already done.”
Before the civil case began, Spectrum released a statement absolving itself of any blame in connection to Thomas’ murder.
“Mrs. Thomas was the victim of a tragic crime, and we are grateful that justice has been served, with the perpetrator in jail for life,” Charter Communications said in a statement released on June 2. “Charter is committed to customer safety. The pre-employment criminal background check of the perpetrator showed no arrests, convictions or other crimes, nor did anything in his work performance suggest he was capable of the crime he committed.”
Thomas’ relatives are not asking for any particular amount but reportedly expect to get compensation totaling more than $1 million.