Judge dismisses final count in suit

Updated: February 25, 2004, 5:50 PM ET
Associated Press

WACO, Texas -- A judge on Wednesday dismissed the final count in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed against Baylor University by the father of a basketball player who was gunned down last summer.

Patrick Dennehy Sr. sought unspecified damages in his suit, which claimed his son became the target of "violent threats" because he intended to expose wrongdoing in the basketball program and that Baylor ignored his requests for help.

Lawyers for most defendants -- including Baylor's president Robert Sloan, former athletic director Tom Stanton and former basketball coach Dave Bliss -- filed motions last month to have the case thrown out.

State District Judge Ralph Strother dismissed the other six counts, including allegations of wrongful death and gross negligence, at a Feb. 6 hearing. Ralph said Baylor could not have foreseen the slaying of Patrick Dennehy Jr., whose body was found in July in a field a few miles from the Waco campus.

Dennehy played two seasons at the University of New Mexico and transferred to Baylor in the spring of 2002.

At the hearing last month, Strother said he would give the plaintiff's attorneys two weeks to provide more evidence on the seventh claim, which accused Baylor and the other defendants of "intentionally, knowingly or recklessly" causing Dennehy's death.

But plaintiff's attorneys did not file additional papers before Friday's deadline, court officials said.

Former Baylor basketball player Carlton Dotson has been charged in his 21-year-old friend's death and remains jailed in Waco awaiting a murder trial.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Baylor officials said the courts ruling "followed well-established law that a university has no legal duty to prevent one of its students from committing a criminal act while off the premises at an event not sponsored by the university."

After Dennehy disappeared, allegations of NCAA violations surfaced at Baylor, the world's largest Baptist university. Bliss and Stanton resigned in August amid revelations that improper tuition payments were made to the younger Dennehy and another player.

Patrick Dennehy Sr., who lives in Tacoma, Wash., had not seen his son since he was 2 but tried to rekindle the relationship several years ago, according to the suit.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press