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Murder victims’ families file suits: Plaintiffs seek millions from Cory Godbolt, insurance company

Two of the families who lost loved ones in last year’s Memorial Day massacre have filed lawsuits against accused killer Willie Cory Godbolt seeking millions in damages.

Christina May-Kelly, Tiara Williams and Deion Williams are asking for punitive damages and compensation in the amount of $11 million in a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their mother, the late Sheila Burage. Shon and Tiffany Blackwell and Shayla Edwards are also claiming wrongful death in a suit seeking the maximum damages allowed under state law.

Godbolt is awaiting trial on capital murder, first-degree murder and other charges for his alleged role in the shooting spree that resulted in the deaths of eight people across Lincoln County the night of May 27-28, 2017, including a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy and two children. Lincoln County District Attorney Dee Bates is seeking the death penalty in the case.

Barbara Mitchell, 56; her daughter, 35-year-old Tocarra May; her sister, 55-year-old Brenda May; and deputy William Durr, 36, were killed at a home on 2871 Lee Drive around midnight May 27. Hours later, Brookhaven High School football player Jordan Blackwell, 18, and 11-year-old Austin Edwards were shot dead at the Blackwells’ home at 1658 Coopertown Road in Brookhaven.

Finally, Ferral and Sheila Burage were murdered at their home at 312 East Lincoln Road in Brookhaven.

Godbolt was arrested nearby, unarmed and bleeding from a gunshot fired by Ferral Burage. What is expected to be a lengthy criminal court case against Godbolt is in its early stages, with a status hearing set for Aug. 2.

May-Kelly and the Williamses are seeking $10 million in punitive damages, $1 million in compensation and court costs with interest. The Blackwells and Edwards are suing Godbolt, Ohio-based Great American Assurance Co. and nine unknown “John Doe” defendants they claim may have benefited from Godbolt’s alleged actions.

The Blackwells and Edwards filed their suit on May 9, while Burage’s children filed on May 25. Summonses have been issued to Godbolt and the insurance company.

Attorneys for the families could not be reached for comment.