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Family of Murder Victim Makia Coney Filing Lawsuit

6:43 PM, Mar 3, 2011   |    comments
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  • Makia Coney was shot and killed by two of her University Christian classmates near the high school they attended on February 10, 2010.
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  • Makia Coney Case Timeline
  • Southern, Pridgen Get Life in Prison for Murdering Makia Coney
  • JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  A lawsuit has been filed against University Christian School in connection with the shooting death of 17-year-old student Makia Coney.

    Coney died after she was gunned down in the woods off Powers Avenue Feb. 10, 2010. Two days later Charles Southern, 17, and Connor Pridgen, 16, were arrested and have since been sentenced to life in prison for the crime.

    The lawsuit also names as defendants Frank Ciresi, the school's pastor, Melissa Tucker, the person in charge of the after-school program that Makia left to go meet Southern and Pridgen, and James and Sheri Cumbie, the parents from whom the guns were stolen and used in the crime.

    Attorney Christopher Chestnut held a press conference outside of the Duval County Courthouse on Thursday afternoon with Makia's Mother Janice Coney-Kensel, and John Gaffney, Makia's godfather who is also a city council member.

    "I just feel like my child should not have to die like this!" Kensel said as she wept. "I didn't want to go this route! But I had no other choice!"

    Kensel and Chestnut believe the lawsuit will force hearings and depositions in which University Christian officials would be forced to answer their questions about Makia's after school care.

    Kensel said her daughter's death could have been prevented by various people at University Christian, including Pastor Ciresi and Tucker.

    Police have said Coney left the school with Pridgen.

    "We want answers! Why was she not being monitored!" Kensel said.

    Southern and Pridgen admitted to stealing the guns from the Cumbie home, which was the house of their former classmate. The Cumbie's are being named in the lawsuit for not properly securing the firearms.

    Chestnut said the school is at fault also, for not having metal detectors. 

    "The guns were on campus days before the shooting. They were bragging about the guns being at the campus. They were showing students," said Chestnut. 

    The lawsuit asks for damages in excess of $15,000 to cover funeral costs and for loss of companionship. However, Kensel said nothing can ever bring back her daughter.

    "I don't get those hugs anymore! I don't get those goodbyes!" Kensel said.

    The Cumbie's told First Coast News over the phone they have no comment. University Christian School told First Coast News it is aware of the lawsuit and said Ciresi would respond sometime Thursday. As of Thursday evening, Ciresi had not responded with a comment.

    First Coast News

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