Tenant, landlord squabble goes to court

Friday, September 9, 2005

Evidence that her landlord sought to overheat her apartment didn't carry much weight for Sonda Owens Thursday during an eviction trial.

Associate circuit judge Peter Statler didn't even look at the police report that led to landlord Fred Barnard being charged with misdemeanor assault. Instead, he wanted proof of whether Sonda Owens paid her rent at 618 North St. from April through September.

Owens claimed she had only missed the July, August and September payments of $325 a month. But she had no receipts.

"This is a trial today," Statler told her. "You should have brought those records."

Barnard, of 243 County Road 438, was charged with turning the heat up Aug. 6 on Owens, 40, an asthmatic with high blood pressure. Police recorded a temperature of 125 degrees in her home that day.

Barnard wants her evicted from the apartment. He said he had been understanding, allowing her to remain despite unpaid rent because Owens said she would be homeless.

Owens changed the locks without permission, Barnard said.

Barnard showed the judge his ledger book, which showed unpaid rent, and a copy of a notice to pay he said he delivered to Owens. After that, he said, "all the legal problems seemed to pop up within a few days."

Owens told Statler that Barnard refused to fix her refrigerator, which wouldn't close properly and attracted gnats, and disconnected her air conditioner, hot water and stove by removing a fuse in an electrical box behind a locked basement door.

Barnard said Owens refused to let him in to fix the refrigerators. Owens denied that statement.

Statler did not rule Thursday on the eviction. After court, Owens said she was already planning to move out of the apartment within a week because none of her complaints about broken appliances and services have been fixed.

Barnard will be arraigned Aug. 26 in associate circuit court in Jackson on the misdemeanor assault charge.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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