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Murder victim's family wins wrongful death suit

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MERRILL, Wis. (WSAU) – The family of a Tomahawk woman murdered in 2008 has won $1.8 million in damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Lincoln County Judge Glenn Hartley entered a default judgment Tuesday against Derek Domke. The 20-year-old Tomahawk man is serving a 45-year prison sentence for robbing and killing Rochelle Anderson at the Zephyr gas station in March 2008.

Hartley also dismissed “John Doe” as a defendant after a man Domke claimed was his accomplice denied any involvement in the crime.

“The family really wanted closure and the lawsuit was an effort to bring them closure,” said John Danner, an attorney who represented the Anderson family. He said he had not personally spoken with the family since the judgment was entered.

Danner filed the lawsuit in February 2010 on behalf of Anderson's young daughter. The girl has until her 19th birthday to re-open the case and pursue the “John Doe” character.

Danner said the odds are “slim to none” that Domke will ever pay the judgment.

The judgment includes $1 million in punitive damages, $350,000 to cover the loss of society and companionship caused by Anderson's death and money to make up for Anderson's lost wages.