Judge finds Cape woman guilty of lying to police

Friday, April 28, 2006

A woman was convicted this week of lying to police on the whereabouts of a man accused in the fatal shooting a teenager in Cape Girardeau.

Associate Circuit Judge Gary A. Kamp issued an order Wednesday stating he found Erica A. Ward, 19, guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of misdemeanor attempting to hinder prosecution.

Ward lied to police by providing a false alibi for Bernard Richards, 19, who is charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 25 shooting death of Jacob Bowers, 17.

Bowers was fatally shot in the back around 8:15 p.m. behind Du-Shell's Furniture, 2103 William St., while running from a botched robbery he conducted of a drug dealer, according to prosecutors.

During Ward's bench trial April 19, several witnesses testified either Richards or a man matching his description was at the scene of the shooting with a gun.

But when Ward spoke to police about Richards' whereabouts, she told officers he had been with her during the time of the shooting, said Cape Girardeau Cpl. Don Perry.

Ward said after she picked up Richards around 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m., they drove together to pick up her paycheck at work and visit a friend, according to Perry.

She told officers she and Richards only learned of the homicide when they saw several police cars in the area on the way back to Ward's home, 2218 Good Hope St., Perry said.

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said he would pursue jail time for Ward, who could face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

"It's not a good idea to lie to police," Swingle said, especially in homicide cases.

Kamp scheduled Ward's sentencing for 10 a.m. June 1, according to the order. Richards was scheduled for jury trial Aug. 22 in the homicide; he has pleaded innocent to the charge.


335-6611, extension 127

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