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Pierce County judge: Convicted killer can’t sue victim’s widow

Larry Shandola
Larry Shandola Staff file, 2001

A convicted murderer’s attempt to sue his victim’s widow has been rejected for a second time by a Pierce County judge.

Superior Court Judge Garold Johnson on Friday denied a motion from Larry Shandola to revive a lawsuit Shandola filed two years ago against Paula Henry, whose husband, Robert Henry, was shot to death in Tacoma in 1995.

A jury convicted Shandola of the murder in 2001, and he was sentenced to 31 years in prison.

In 2013, Shandola from prison sued Paula Henry and others, contending their formal objections to his request to transfer to a prison in Canada violated his privacy rights and inflicted emotional distress.

Shandola, who has maintained his innocence in Robert Henry’s death, was born in Canada and has said he wants to serve his time there to be closer to family.

Johnson dismissed Shandola’s lawsuit not long after it was filed, ruling it was a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP action. The SLAPP law was intended to prevent frivolous lawsuits aimed at silencing free expression.

The Legislature since has passed a law that requires judges to review lawsuits such as Shandola’s before they are served to victims or their families.

In May of this year, the Washington State Supreme Court declared the SLAPP law unconstitutional, and over the summer Shandola asked Judge Johnson to reinstate his suit, court records show.

On Friday, the judge declined, according to attorney Frank Ladenburg, who represents Paula Henry.

Johnson ruled that Shandola’s lawsuit was governed by the law on the books at the time it was filed, and that the unconstitutional declaration by the state’s high court was not retroactive to his case, Ladenburg said.

Shandola did not participate in Friday’s hearing by conference call or otherwise.

Ladenburg said Paula Henry, who now lives in another state, was thrilled with the decision.

The attorney said he expects Shandola to appeal, even though he wishes he’d just let the matter drop.

“It’s a nasty thing for Paula to be reminded of her husband’s murder over and over again,” Ladenburg said.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644, @TNTAdam

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