Gun shop owner named in wrongful death suit

Complaint alleges Coxe shouldn't have left killer alone in store

Posted: Friday, August 01, 2008

The family of murdered Simone Young Kim is seeking damages for his wrongful death against not only the killer, but also the owner of the gun shop where the killer got his weapon.

Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire
Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

A complaint filed Thursday in Juneau Superior Court alleges that Ray Coxe, owner of Rayco Sales, should have known better than to leave Jason Coday alone in his store with a rifle ultimately used to kill a man behind Fred Meyer department store in 2006.

Coxe declined to comment on the matter.

Coday, also named in the suit, is serving 101 years in prison - 99 years for the first-degree murder conviction of Kim and two years for sawing off the rifle he took from Rayco Sales.

Coday, 31, is lodged at Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward, according to state officials, and had not been served a copy of the complaint yet on Thursday evening.

Coday went into the Old Dairy Road gun shop on Aug. 2, 2006, and asked about buying a Ruger rifle, the lawsuit alleges. Coxe brought out a used .22-caliber rifle and showed it to Coday. Then Coxe went to another part of the store and left Coday alone with the weapon.

Coday took the weapon and left two $100 bills on the counter.

Then he bought ammunition and a hacksaw from Fred Meyer, across the highway.

A jury found that two days later, Coday shot Kim four times behind Fred Meyer. The murder appeared to be a random act of violence.

Kim, a painting contractor from Anchorage, was working on the Fred Meyer remodeling project at the time.

The Kim family hired Juneau attorney Mark Choate.

Choate contacted the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that does gun-control legal advocacy, to help on the case.

There's no video surveillance of Coday taking the gun. According to the complaint, a Rayco employee said one of the two video cameras wasn't recording because an employee forgot to change the tape, and the other had a broken tape in it.

The complaint says a "a reasonable jury would be justified in concluding" that the tapes did in fact exist, and that Coxe destroyed them to hide evidence that he "knowingly and illegally" sold the rifle to Coday for $200 without subjecting him to a background check.

"The problem is that, I think, he's running a shop where he really depends upon the buyers' good characters, rather than having adequate security," said Choate. "I think he's a decent man. But the security was just abysmal."

The family seeks damages of at least $100,000, the complaint said.

• Contact reporter Kate Golden at 523-2276 or kate.golden@juneauempire.com.



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