Couple pleads not guilty in Sikeston alcohol case

Friday, July 20, 2007

Several friends and church members showed up at an arraignment at the Scott County Courthouse on Thursday to offer support to the Sikeston couple facing a combined 60 counts of supplying alcohol to minors at a graduation party last May.

Mark Cheatham, 48, and his wife, Terry Brewer-Cheatham, 47, pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment before Judge Terry L. Brown.

Stephen C. Wilson, attorney for the Cheathams, told Brown that the case was still in the discovery, or evidence-gathering, phase, and Scott County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Boyd said he was compiling reports in preparation for the preliminary hearing.

Boyd also made a motion to join the two cases, which Judge Brown granted, so the Cheathams will be tried as co-defendants. The proceedings will be moved to Mississippi County, as per Wilson's request.

The Cheathams stood chatting after the arraignment, shaking hands and thanking those who showed their support, which included their pastor from St. Francis Xavier Church in Sikeston.

The couple declined to comment on the proceedings.

On May 20, officers from the Sikeston Department of Public Safety were called to the Cheathams' home at 123 Greenbrier Drive in Sikeston after receiving a complaint of loud music and underage drinking at the residence.

When they arrived, they discovered a handful of minors who had alcoholic beverages, according to the police report. At first, municipal charges were filed against the couple and at least 30 people ages 17 to 20 from the area received citations for underage possession of alcohol.

Upon further investigation, Boyd's office filed state charges against the Cheathams, who, according to the police incident reports, defended their hosting of the party by saying teenagers were going to drink, so it was better that they do it somewhere safe.

The Cheathams are charged with 30 counts each of supplying minors with alcohol. If found guilty, the Cheathams could face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine for each charge.

The preliminary hearing is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 19.

bdicosmo@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 245

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