BATON ROUGE – An attorney representing the minor children of an estranged couple who died in a murder-suicide in November is saying little about the lawsuit filed against their father's business partner, a Baton Rouge man who collected their father's $500,000 life insurance payout.
"I don’t think it is appropriate, at this juncture, to comment on pending litigation," New Orleans attorney Timothy W. Cerniglia said in an email to the Louisiana Record. "We do hope to bring this case to resolution in a timely manner. Beyond that, however, there is nothing we can say at this time."
For his part, Todd Hines, defendant in the children's lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court for Louisiana's Middle District, told the Associated Press that he is blameless in claiming the payout on his business partner's life insurance policy. He said he claimed the payout shortly after his business partner, Billy Wayne Newman, shot and killed his estranged wife, Lauren Beebe, before killing himself with the same gun, the Associated Press said.
Beebe filed for divorce in October and Newman was served with divorce papers on the 30th of that month, the lawsuit says.
The federal lawsuit filed on April 29, said it was illegal for Newman to replace his wife as beneficiary of his life insurance policy with Hines. Once served, Newman was required to obey the divorce court's automatic orders, which prohibited him from changing the beneficiary on his life insurance policy.
Newman did just that when he traveled to Baton Rouge, changing his life insurance beneficiary to Hines on Nov. 13, the lawsuit says. On the same day, "Billy Newman unlawfully obtained a firearm, the one he eventually used to take the life of Lauren Beebe and with which he thereafter took his own life," the lawsuit said.
Also on the same day, while still in Louisiana, Newman also changed the title to a 2007 van from Beebe to himself and then left the van with Hines for use in their business, the lawsuit says.
On Nov. 25, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, state police reported responding to a domestic disturbance in a home at 8 Route 148 in Killingworth, Connecticut. There they found the bodies of 57-year-old Newman and 48-year-old Beebe.
"On December 14, 2015, less than three weeks after the murder suicide referenced above, Defendant Todd Hines, without notice to Plaintiffs, filed a claim with Protective Life Insurance Company for the $500,000.00 death benefits, and elected to receive a draft account that would provide him with a check book and immediate access to the funds," the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit argues the money should go to Newman and Beebe's children. Both Beebe and Newman died intestate and, according to Connecticut statutes, their estates should be distributed to their children, the lawsuit says.
"The purported change of beneficiary by Billy Wayne Newman on November 13, 2015, being in knowing and willful violation of and in complete disregard for a valid court order, and performed in abject contempt of court, was null and void and of no effect," the lawsuit says.