HOLLIDAYSBURG - Blair County Judge Elizabeth Doyle has refused to dismiss a petition from an area insurance company that is contesting it has a duty to represent convicted killer Nicholas Horner and his parents in lawsuits brought against them by the families of those killed or injured during his shooting rampage in 2009.
Nicholas Horner is serving two life sentences plus 28-58 years in a state correctional institution for the murders of Scott Thomas Garlick, 19, and Raymond E. Williams, 64, and for wounding Michele Petty.
Garlick and Petty were employees of Subway on 58th Street when Horner, an Army veteran, robbed the business about 5 p.m. on April 6, 2009.
In his attempt to getaway he shot and killed Williams, who was standing at his mailbox within blocks of Subway.
The gun used in the assaults was owned by Horner's father, Daniel, and lawsuits were brought against Nicholas Horner, his father and his mother, Karen.
Mr. and Mrs. Horner live in Johnstown while Nicholas and his family resided in Altoona.
The parents have turned to their homeowner's insurance police to represent them in the various lawsuits but the Friends Cove Mutual Insurance Co. of Bedford has petitioned Doyle for a ruling freeing it from the obligation to represent the parents, contending Nicholas was not an insured party and that he was not living with his parents at the time of the shootings.
Attorneys representing Petty and her husband, Gerald, James and Amy Garlick, the parents of Scott, and Eva Williams, the wife of Raymond Williams, want the insurance company's petition dismissed.
They contend the company has not shown which clause in the homeowners insurance policy would exclude the Horners from coverage.
Doyle disagreed. She ruled that company has raised the possibility a finding could be made that the Horners allowed their son to use Daniel Horner's gun knowing that it was "substantially certain that he would engage in violent behavior."
If that is shown, then coverage under the insurance policy would be excluded, contends insurance company attorney Stephen L. Dugas of Altoona.
The judge's ruling means the attorneys for the victims must now file legal answers to the insurance company's petition.
Horner is an Iraq war veteran and during his trial his defense team contended he was suffering from post traumatic stress, anxiety, and other conditions, including drug delirium, when he robbed Subway.
The initial victim's lawsuit filed in 2012 on behalf of the Pettys claimed "a registered gun owner of a handgun must never needlessly endanger the public by allowing a person to continue possession of their handgun when they know or have reason to know the person is not competent to possess a handgun."