MARYSVILLE, Calif., Nov. 29 -- A Yuba County jury on Wednesday found a local school district in part liable in a 1992 campus hostage siege that left four people dead. Jurors in the civil case said the Marysville Joint Unified School District could be held liable in part for the shooting spree by former student Eric Houston.
The panel said Houston should be held liable for 95 percent of the damages and that the school district should be forced to pay the remaining 5 percent. Houston, who has been sentenced to death for the crimes, said he had no money to pay to the victims. The 24-year-old former student was convicted of holding 85 people hostage at his high school during a shooting spree on May 1, 1992. Four people were killed and 10 others injured at Lindhurst High School before Houston surrendered to authorities. After the siege, 13 victims sued Houston and the school district in civil court. Attorneys for the victims claimed that the school district had not done enough to prevent the hostage siege. Attorney Melvin Belli said the school had received a warning call and that a faculty member had not tried to stop Houston, who was armed when he came on campus. School officials denied such allegations. Nine of 12 jurors said the school district had 'failed to use reasonable care' to prevent the crime. Judge Robert Lenhard accepted the verdicts and a hearing will be set to determine damages in the case. Prosecutors said the gunman stormed his school seeking revenge on Robert Brens, a civics teacher who had flunked Houston and prevented him from graduating with his class. Brens and three students were killed during the daylong hostage siege.