United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
STARRETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause comes before the Court on Defendant Emma Raine's
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment . Defendant, the
Estate of James R. Raine (the “Estate”), has
filed its response and memorandum in support [46, 47], and
Emma Raine has filed a reply . Having reviewed the
pleadings, the parties' submissions, the record in this
matter, and the applicable law, and otherwise being fully
advised in the premises, the Court finds the Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment is well taken and will be
Parties and Procedural History
case involves the determination of the proper party to
receive the proceeds of a life insurance policy following the
death of James R. Raine, who was the victim of a homicide on
October 21, 2011. Mr. Raine was shot to death in his home in
Poplarville, Mississippi, having been shot multiple times in
the forehead, chin, head and neck.  at ¶¶ 25,
31;  at ¶¶ 25, 31;  at ¶¶ 25, 26.
Almost six years later, on July 6, 2017, Plaintiff, Garden
State Life Insurance Company (“Garden State”),
filed a Complaint for Interpleader and for Declaratory
Judgment , which was later amended . The basis of the
interpleader action was Garden State's assertion that
there are competing claims for the life insurance proceeds.
[27 at ¶ 7].
Emma Raine and the Estate of James R. Raine have answered the
Amended Complaint [29, 32]. The United States also became a
party to the action by filing an unopposed motion to
intervene, which was granted, and a cross-claim against Emma
Raine, seeking to recover fines and restitution pursuant to a
criminal conviction for bankruptcy fraud and tax fraud in the
amount of $94, 107.01 should Emma Raine be entitled to the
proceeds of the insurance policy [17, 21]. Emma Raine
concedes liability to the IRS should she prevail on summary
judgment. [43 at p. 1]. Emma Raine is currently incarcerated
in the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St.
Gabriel, Louisiana, having been convicted of second degree
murder in the death of her second husband, Ernest Smith, in
August 2016.  #1;  #3; , Ex. M.
closed on July 2, 2018, and Emma Raine has now filed a Motion
for Partial Summary Judgment as to the claim in the
interpleader action concerning which Defendant is entitled to
the proceeds of the Policy.
Nature of the Dispute
State issued Policy No. 00411074 to, and covering the life
of, James R. Raine, the Decedent, as the Owner and the
Insured, on August 11, 2010, with the policy being in full
force and effect on the date of James R. Raine's death
(the “Policy”).  at ¶ 24;  at ¶
24;  at ¶ 24. There is no dispute that Emma Raine is
listed as the beneficiary on the Policy.  at ¶ 28;
 at ¶ 28;  at ¶26. Emma Raine made a claim
for the proceeds of the insurance on December 6, 2011. 
at ¶ 30;  at ¶ 30;  at ¶26. Garden
State thereafter began an investigation and review.
dispute as to entitlement to the proceeds arose due to
allegations set forth in the April 2, 2013 Petition to Open
Intestate Estate filed in the Chancery Court of Pearl River
County, Mississippi, wherein the Petitioners alleged that at
the time of his death, James R. Raine was married to Emma
Raine; they had no children together, but James R. Raine had
one child.  at ¶ 49, Ex. U at ¶ III;  at
¶ 49;  at ¶ 31. The Petitioners further alleged
that Emma Raine is a suspect in the shooting death of James
R. Raine and that she brought about his death. [27 at
¶¶ 7, 50], Ex. U at ¶ VI. Finally, the
Petitioners stated they had reason to believe that there may
be life insurance policies applicable to the decedent and
that they intended to file a claim on behalf of the Estate.
 at ¶ 51, Ex. U at ¶ VII;  at ¶ 51;
 at ¶ 31.
interpleading the funds, Garden State sought “to avoid
unilaterally paying proceeds to any person or any entity not
clearly entitled to said proceeds or who may be determined to
not be entitled to said proceeds, particularly with the
aforedescribed Competing Claims.”  at ¶ 47.
to the terms of the Policy, “[a]ny proceeds payable
because of the death of the Insured will be paid to the
Beneficiary. Unless changed as provided in this Policy, the
Beneficiary will be designated in the application.”
, Ex. A. at p. 9/20. Again, there is no dispute that Emma
Raine is the Beneficiary under the terms of the Policy. The
Policy goes on to provide that “[i]f the interest of
all designated Beneficiaries has terminated, any proceeds
will be paid to the Owner or his estate or successors.”
Id. Garden State asserted, and the Estate argues,
that the Beneficiary's interest could terminate under
what is known as the Slayer Statute,  which provides as follows:
If any person willfully cause or procure the death of another
in any way, he shall not inherit the property, real or
personal, of such other; but the same shall descend as if the
person so causing or procuring the death had ...