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Archive for Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Lawrence woman to wait on charges related to Vital murder

Judge skeptical of charges

January 31, 2007

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A Lawrence woman will wait at least a month to find out if she will face a jury for federal obstruction charges.

Audrey Ferguson, 49, is charged with obstruction in relation to the murder of Anthony Vital. She appeared at a preliminary hearing Wednesday to answer charges that she tried to prevent her roommate from being interviewed about her knowledge of "a felony investigation."

Two Douglas County Sheriff's deputies testified at the hearing that Ferguson tried to obstruct the investigation by intimidating her roommate during an interview and hanging up on sheriff's detectives when they called trying to get her roommate to talk during a closed-door inquisition hearing.

Sheriff's deputies first contacted Ferguson after a prisoner in Douglas County Jail told investigators the bloody clothes associated with the murder might be at her house. Deputies then served a search warrant Nov. 9, Deputy Chris Thomas said in court Wednesday.

After the warrant was served, Thomas and others attempted to interview her roommate, he said, but Ferguson repeatedly told her to be quiet and not cooperate.

But the arguments were more akin to intimidating a witness, Judge Michael Malone said - which was not the charge prosecutors leveled at Ferguson. To prove the obstruction charge, Malone said he wanted both Assistant District Attorney James McCabria and defense attorney Kevin Babbit to file legal briefs, explaining their arguments in writing.

Anthony Vital, a Lawrence rapper, was found murdered in October, in a field west of Lawrence.

Malone scheduled final arguments to continue March 9.

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