Saturday, December 16, 2000

Killer, family fight over money

$50,000 Lucasville settlement at issue

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Johnny Lee Fryman smiled broadly and laughed Friday when a judge asked him about his conviction for killing a woman in a Satanic ritual.

        His mood didn't turn serious until the judge asked him about paying compensation to the victim's family.

        “Nobody got no money,” Mr. Fryman snapped.

        But the family of Mr. Fryman's victim, Monica Lemen, is confident the convicted killer is about to collect a big cash windfall as part of a recent court settlement.

        And the family wants to make sure Mr. Fryman never gets his hands on the money.

        Ms. Lemen's mother, Patricia, went to court Friday to argue that Mr. Fryman's $50,000 court settlement should go to the victim's family and not to the killer.

        Patricia Lemen was awarded $1 million from Mr. Fryman in 1988 after she filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against her daughter's killer.

        At the time, Mr. Fryman had just been convicted of the 1987 shooting death and dismemberment of the 21-year-old Price Hill woman. Ms. Lemen's legs were found behind a church in Indiana. The rest of her body was never found.

        Mr. Fryman, who is serving a life sentence, had no money when he entered prison and was declared indigent by the courts.

        But in 1993, he was stabbed and nearly killed in the Lucasville prison riot. He was one of several inmates awarded money as compensation for their injuries.

        Ms. Lemen's mother contends the money should be paid to her as compensation for the murder of her daughter.

        “Nothing will bring my daughter back, but I feel he shouldn't benefit,” Patricia Lemen said. “I'm a single mother fighting for my daughter. She was my only child.”

        Mr. Fryman has not yet received the money, but he intends to keep it when he does. He claims the Lemen family's $1 million judgment against him should be thrown out because he was not properly notified of the family's lawsuit.

        “I didn't have no idea about this million dollars,” he testified Friday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

        But attorneys for Mrs. Lemen showed him several letters Mr. Fryman had sent to a lawyer in 1988 and 1989 about the Lemen family's lawsuit.

        Judge Norbert Nadel said the letters raised “very serious questions” about Mr. Fryman's credibility. The judge will not rule on the case until next month, but he verbally sparred with Mr. Fryman several times during the hearing Friday.

        “There's no question you did it, right?” Judge Nadel asked, referring to Ms. Lemen's murder. “Did you do it?”

        Mr. Fryman smiled and laughed a little, then refused to answer.

        Earlier in the hearing, Mr. Fryman blamed his interest in Satanism on an old girlfriend. “I fell in the wrong love with the wrong woman,” he explained.


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