Region digest 02/01/03

Saturday, February 1, 2003

Rinehart, Stone trial delayed; witness in Haiti

KENNETT, Mo. -- A Scott County judge has granted a continuance in the case of Dexter's ex-police chief Ken Rinehart and Sgt. Sammy Stone.

Charged with hindering prosecution, Rinehart and Stone were supposed to stand trial Feb. 6 in Dunklin County before Associate Circuit Judge Douglas Mann of Scott County.

Their charges are the result of indictments handed down in January 2002 by a Stoddard County grand jury. The indictments stem from an incident involving former Dexter officer Robert Kennedy, who was arrested in July 2001 on charges of improper sexual activities. He later pleaded guilty to three felonies and was placed on five years of supervised probation.

According to a motion for continuance by Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Briney Welborn, Steve Comfort, a "crucial witness," is in Haiti on mission work and will return in mid-February.

Small fire at Cape beer company put out

Cape Girardeau firefighters responded Friday evening to an alarm at Bluff City Beer Co. on Siemers Drive, where they quickly extinguished a small trash can fire.

Firefighters were let into the building by the company president, said battalion chief Steve Niswonger. They located the fire in the front office area.

The fire appeared be ignited by a still-burning cigarette in the waste can, Niswonger said. About four cigarette butts were found inside the can.

There was a moderate amount of smoke left inside the office, which took about 25 minutes to be cleared. No injuries were reported.

Wife pleads guilty to conspiracy in killing

In a last-second plea bargain, Tammy L. Holman, 35, of Festus, Mo., guaranteed herself seven years in prison Friday for planning the shooting death of her husband. But had she waited a little while longer, she might have ended up with a hung jury and a new trial.

Holman's husband, Larry, was found dead in his car on a wooded road two years ago. Originally, police believed he was killed by a deer hunter's stray bullet. The trial began Wednesday in the Jackson courtroom of Circuit Judge William Syler on a change of venue from Jefferson County.

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle and his staff observed parts of the trial. He spoke with one of the Jefferson County prosecutors handling the case, who told him that jurors "had become divided six to six and that no one would change their vote," Swingle said. "So it would have been a hung jury."

Charles Miller, 47, a co-defendant in the case, admitted he shot the victim after planning the killing with Tammy Holman, his lover. Miller has already pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Man killed in Bollinger County accident Friday

An 89-year-old Ste. Genevieve, Mo., man was killed Friday morning after a one-car accident on Highway 51 in Patton, Mo., in Bollinger County.

Oscar Huber was southbound on the highway shortly after 6 a.m., when his 2000 Ford ran off the left side of the road and struck several trees and a parked car.

He was taken to St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Cape Girardeau by helicopter, but was later pronounced dead by Bollinger County Coroner Charles Hutchings.

Vision 2020 to hold brainstorming session

Members of Vision 2020, a Cape Girardeau planning organization appointed by the city council, will be meeting Thursday with area media representatives for a brainstorming session on how to improve community pride.

"One of the strategies in one of our vision areas has to do with community pride and we thought one of the ways we could do that is through a media campaign," said Vision 2020 member Nancy Jernigan.

Vision 2020 is also starting the beginning stages of gathering information to submit to the National Civic League for its All-American Award.

Jernigan said Cape Girardeau received such status in the late 1960s.

-- From staff, wire reports

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