Trials and Litigation

Attorney who took over husband's death-penalty case after he was killed is sued for malpractice

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After a mentally ill man shot her husband to death outside his Kentucky law office in 2014, attorney Bethany Stanziano took over as lead counsel in a triple-murder case that Mark Stanziano had been handling.

Now she is being sued for legal malpractice by Kenneth Allen Keith, following her withdrawal from the representation last year. Keith, whose death-penalty case is still ongoing, is seeking reimbursement of some of the $87,000 paid toward a $150,000 retainer charged by Mark Stanziano, as well as compensatory and punitive damages and attorney’s fees, reports the Advocate Messenger.

Bethany Stanziano herself said in her withdrawal petition that she had no experience in death-penalty work and could not effectively represent Keith, due to a the number of serious felony cases she was then handling and her emotional state of mind, the newspaper reports.

However, she has resisted efforts by Keith to get an accounting of the retainer funds remaining in her trust account and said they are not available because she “had to (expletive) eat,” the suit alleges.

The suit says Keith “paid a fee grossly unreasonable and disproportionate to the amount of work preformed” in his case by Stanziano and her late husband, and was greatly distressed at having to defend a capital case without effective counsel at his side.

Filed by Keith and his wife in Boyle Circuit Court earlier this month, the suit asserts causes of action for claimed breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, fraud and deceit, unjust enrichment and infliction of emotional distress, as well as legal malpractice and breach of contract, the newspaper reports.

In addition to Stanziano herself, the Stanziano & Catron law firm and the estate of her late husband are named as defendants.

The article does not include any comment from Bethany Stanziano.

No trial date has yet been set for Keith in the triple-murder case. He also faces a civil suit over one of the slayings.

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