MARTINSBURG – A settlement has been entered in a lawsuit over the death of David K. Ventiquattro, who made headlines in the 1980s when he shot his neighbor and blamed the game Dungeons and Dragons.
Ventiquattro was a truck driver who left behind a wife and two children after he died from injuries that allegedly resulted from a traffic accident on Interstate-81 in Berkeley County in 2010. The complaint, filed in February 2012, says he was stopped because of a traffic accident when a tractor-trailer owned by Full Truck Load Express rear-ended him.
Ventiquattro suffered injuries to his left ankle, left rib and right knee, then developed erythema and edema in both legs, the complaint says. Having had his physical activity reduced significantly, he developed acute bronchopneumonia and died on March 29, 2010.
The settlement with FTL Express is worth $50,000. The Chandler Law Group of Charlottesville, Va., will keep almost $18,000.
Ventiquattro, according to a New York Times article, killed his neighbor, 11-year-old Martin E. Howland, with a shotgun in 1985 in Herrings, N.Y., while the two were playing in his bedroom.
He told police several accounts of what happened. First, he said he did not know what happened. Second, he said Howland shot himself. Third, he said he accidentally shot Howland.
At that point, police mirandized Ventiquattro. In his final statement, he said the two were playing Dungeons and Dragons, and that he shot Howland because he fantasized that he was evil and that it was his job to exterminate evil, according to court records.
He was convicted by a jury of murder in the second degree, with all of his statements being admitted into evidence. He was sentenced to five-and-a-half years to life in prison.
In 1988, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, overturned the conviction. It ruled that police, during eight hours of questioning, sought to isolate Ventiquattro from his parents to obtain a confession.
Ultimately, Ventiquattro pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years to life at a state juvenile center, according to the Syracuse Herald-Journal. The mother of Howland won $75,000 in a wrongful death lawsuit.
At the time of his death, Ventiquattro lived in Timberville, Va., and was working for Simbeck, Inc., in Winchester, Va.
From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org.