National Roundup

Tennessee

3 women charged with forging will

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Three women have been charged with forgery over the estate of the late state Rep. Ulysses Jones.

Sandra Richards, Avis Langford-Brannon and Beverly Prye have all surrendered after a Shelby County grand jury returned indictments against them last week, according to The Commercial Appeal. All are charged with tampering with or fabricating evidence, aggravated perjury and forgery over $60,000.

They are all employees of the Memphis Fire Department where Jones was a battalion chief.

Jones died at 59 in November 2010 of complications from pneumonia.

After his death, Richards said Jones was her fiancée and presented a will witnessed by the other two women.

A court ruled it a forgery and awarded Jones' estate to his son and daughter.

It wasn't clear whether the accused had attorneys.

Tennessee

Murder conviction of Knox widow could be at risk

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The murder conviction of a Knox County widow in the death of her second husband could be in jeopardy because of the trial judge's drug addiction.

A jury convicted Raynella Dossett Leath of first-degree murder in 2010, finding her guilty in the 2003 shooting death of David Leath in the couple's home.

The trial was before former Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner, who later resigned from the bench, pleaded guilty to official misconduct and has been disbarred.

A special judge has already ordered new trials for four people convicted in the kidnapping and torture killing of a young Knox County couple -- cases that Baumgartner presided over.

Leath's attorney, James A.H. Bell, said the defense is exploring "all the correct avenues," according to The Knoxville News Sentinel.

Indiana

Man fights oil-drilling under his property

MOUNT VERNON, Ind. (AP) -- A southwestern Indiana man who's fighting an oil-drilling project says he'll go to court to try to stop a company's plans to drill beneath his land.

Gary Williams tells the Evansville Courier & Press he's ready to take his dispute with CountryMark Energy Resources LLC "to the next level." He's stalled the project by refusing to sign papers allowing Countrymark to drill horizontally beneath his Posey County land.

Williams says CountryMark's proposals fall short of protecting his well water from contamination.

CountryMark has responded by pursuing "forced pooling," a legal process critics liken to eminent domain for drillers.

Thirty of Williams' neighbors in the 32-parcel drilling area have leased their acreage to CountryMark.

Williams goes before a state panel Jan. 12 to plead his case.

Maine

Jury clears ex-York County Jail guard of assault

ALFRED, Maine (AP) -- A former York County Jail guard accused of assaulting an inmate last spring has been cleared of the charge.

Roger Souliere of Kennebunk was recently found not guilty of assault, criminal threatening and reckless conduct by a York County Superior Court jury.

Charges against three other guards have been dismissed.

Prosecutors originally alleged the 30-year-old Souliere and the other guards assaulted the inmate in April while he was being removed from his cell.

The inmate claimed he was dropped on his face three times and had his head stepped on.

Souliere's lawyer tells the Journal Tribune that the inmate had no evidence of injury and his client is "very happy" with the verdict.

Souliere has resigned.

Colorado

Lawsuit claims troopers covered up crash

DENVER (AP) -- A Littleton family injured in a car crash involving the former Garfield County sheriff claims the officer got special treatment by the Colorado State Patrol.

The family has filed a lawsuit in federal court that says troopers never checked former sheriff Verne Soucie for impairment after the 2009 crash and didn't seek out witnesses.

According to the Denver Post, the crash injured David Rivard, his wife Leanne and the couple's daughter, Cameron. The family is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Troopers reissued a citation to Soucie for careless driving that somehow got lost and didn't result in charges at the time.

Soucie and the state patrol did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Minnesota

Woman acquitted in death of 2-year-old son

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- A jury has acquitted a Ramsey County woman who was charged in the death of her 2-year-old son.

Twenty-four-year-old Jessica Dominique Caldwell was found not guilty Saturday of seven charges of murder and manslaughter.

She was charged after Julian Williams died in 2009. A St. Paul Pioneer Press report says he suffered internal injuries, including a severed pancreas and torn arteries.

In a separate trial three months ago, Caldwell's boyfriend was convicted on one count of manslaughter. Demetrius Willis was acquitted on other murder and manslaughter charges.

Defense attorney Ira Whitlock theorized that the fatal blows came from Willis or Caldwell's teenage brother.

Prosecutors alleged that Caldwell assaulted her son because he was fussy. Caldwell testified that she didn't hurt the boy, nor did she see Willis hurt him.

Florida

Woman arrested 2 decades later on drug charges

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida woman who vanished two decades ago while facing prison time walked into a county office to request a state ID -- in her own name.

Officials say 61-year-old Christine Dickinson was arrested earlier this month. A Manatee County Tax Collector's clerk became suspicious when no record could be found that Dickinson ever possessed a Florida ID or driver's license.

The St. Petersburg Times reports Dickinson was the suspected ringleader in a $200 million drug operation. Officials say the group smuggled cocaine and marijuana from Colombia and Jamaica.

The newspaper reports Dickinson's boyfriend was arrested years ago in France. Others served their time in prison and are now leading respectable lives.

Dickinson appeared in federal court in Tampa last week and is being held without bond on racketeering charges.

Published: Tue, Dec 13, 2011

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