Court Roundup


Health delay is sought in fraud trial of judge 
CAMDEN, Ark. (AP) — Ouachita County Judge Mike Hesterly is seeking a delay in his upcoming federal trial on charges that he allegedly awarded a tornado-relief contract in exchange for a campaign contribution.
Hesterly’s attorneys filed a request this week to push back the trial, saying that Hesterly is still recovering from back surgery he underwent in November. Hesterly has pleaded not guilty.
“He remains too incapacitated to participate in the trial as scheduled ... The ends of justice would best be served by granting a continuance in this matter,” the motion said.
A federal grand jury indicted Hesterly and contractor Harry Clemons Jr. in January 2013. The indictment alleges Hesterly hired Clemons to help clean up the county following October 2009 storms after Clemons arranged for two other people to submit inflated bids to ensure he received a contract backed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The indictment said Clemons received $69,865 for the work, and in turn gave Hesterly a campaign contribution in excess of $5,000. In Arkansas, a county judge is the chief administrative officer of a county, much like a mayor in a city.
Clemons has also pleaded not guilty and is also set for trial next month.
Prosecutors are opposing the request for the delay, noting that the trial has been pending for more than a year and that Hesterly remains in office as Ouachita County judge, the Camden News ( reported.
“It is in the interest of justice that the trial of this matter proceed as scheduled unless Defendant Hesterly can establish through testimony of his treating physician or other medical experts at an evidentiary hearing that his medical problems make it impossible for him to attend and participate in the trial,” the prosecutors’ response said.
A judge has not yet ruled on the motion to delay.
Man convicted of killing neig­hbor over drain dispute
LOGANSPORT, Ind. (AP) — A jury has convicted a 78-year-old man of killing his 76-year-old neighbor in 2011 after what authorities say was an ongoing dispute over drainage problems at their northern Indiana properties.
The Cass County jury deliberated about four hours Thursday before reaching a guilty verdict, the Pharos-Tribune reported.
Loren Fry was charged with murder in the September 2011 death of Dave Schroder, who was found shot twice inside his vehicle partially off the road near his home in a rural area near Logansport, about 40 miles northeast of Lafayette.
Defense lawyer Matthew Barrett argued that prosecutors only had a circumstantial case against Fry and no evidence linking the bullets that killed Schroder to Fry’s guns. Barrett asked jurors in his closing arguments to consider whether any of them had been falsely accused.
“That is what happened here,” he said.
Schroder’s son testified during the four-day trial that his father told him the day he was shot that he’d received a letter from an attorney about the drainage dispute with Fry.
Cass County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Lisa Swaim told jurors that the case was about two men who didn’t get along.
“When you look at the evidence, there is nobody else,” she said.
Fry faces a prison term of 45 years to 65 years on the murder conviction. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 14.
His lawyer said he expects to appeal the conviction.


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