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Crime around the state

Crime around the state

Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 8:01 pm

Mother charged in
newborn’s death
LaFollette, Tenn. (AP) — Campbell County authorities have charged a woman with first-degree murder in the death of her newborn, whose body was found more than a week later in a trash bag.
Authorities believe that Wanda Cieslak, 39, was doing drugs in a house where police discovered a methamphetamine lab and then gave birth to a baby boy on Oct. 13. Police believe she killed the newborn, wrapped him in a garbage bag and left him on the front porch of a nearby home, where he was found on Oct. 21.
Cieslak was also charged Tuesday with aggravated child abuse. A police affidavit said that Cieslak had drugs in her system prior to giving birth.
She is being held at the Campbell County jail on a $500,000 bond.
No attorney was listed for her in jail records.
LaFollette Police Department Chief Jimmy Jeffries said they are waiting on results from an autopsy to determine the exact time of death of the child. A pathologist found the baby died of asphyxiation.
Jefferies said a preliminary report on the baby’s death indicated “there was no reason to believe that it was not born alive and healthy.”
He said they are also waiting for toxicology results to determine what kind of drugs were in Cieslak’s system.
“I can say we suspect oxycodone being one of the drugs,” Jeffries said.
Court records show that Cieslak was arrested for child abuse and neglect in 2009 and was sentenced to one year in jail. Jefferies said Cieslak has other children, but he did not know how many, only that they were in protective custody.
Driver faces federal charges in
trooper shooting
Jackson (AP) — A woman who drove a car that figured into the shooting and wounding of a Tennessee state trooper has pleaded not guilty to three federal weapons charges.
A man who was in the car was shot and killed by Trooper Dwayne Stanford after the suspect fired on Stanford, striking his protective vest.
In U.S. District Court at Jackson on Monday, 47-year-old Christl Hicks Pepper waived formal reading of the charges and pleaded not guilty. No trial date was set, according to The Jackson Sun ( Police said Pepper was driving a car the trooper stopped on Interstate 40 in Henderson County on Sept. 28. A passenger, 50-year-old Robert Cunningham Jr., shot Stanford, who returned fire, killing Cunningham.
Pepper and Cunningham are from Cadiz, Ky.
Agents follow
 inmate’s guide
Clarksville (AP) — The confiscated writings of a jail inmate in Clarksville led drug agents to a crop of marijuana plants after a deputy realized the inmate had provided detailed directions to several Montgomery County growing operations.
Deputy Amanda Pierce was looking through a book that an inmate had tried to give to a visitor when she noticed writing inside. She gave the book to another officer, Sgt. Marty Pierce, who realized it gave directions to where marijuana was being grown, The Leaf-Chronicle reported (
Lt. Jesse Reynolds, director of the 19th Judicial District Drug Task Force, said his agents studied the directions and were able to find three locations and 32 marijuana plants on Monday, some of which were more than 6 feet tall.
“It was like being a little kid and trying to decipher a treasure map,” Reynolds said in the release. “It was difficult to do because the areas were larger than most residential plots.”
Reynolds said the inmate, whose name was not released, was in jail facing charges for marijuana found inside his home and they intended to indict him on additional charges after the discovery of the plants.
Judge sends former nursing aide to jail
Jonesborough, Tenn. (AP) — A judge in Jonesborough has sentenced a former certified nursing assistant to jail time in a patient abuse case. Amanda Tibble of Jonesborough worked at the John M. Reed Nursing Home in Limestone when she was accused in January 2010 of physically, verbally and emotionally abusing elderly patients, according to The Johnson City Press (
Tibble was fired when the allegations surfaced and pleaded guilty in September to two counts of willful abuse or neglect of an adult.
She entered no contest pleas to two other counts.
In court Tuesday, Tibble told Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp she had anger management problems.
Cupp also heard testimony from the daughter and granddaughter of Anza Hall, who was 89 years old when the abuse came to light.
Marcella Hall and her daughter, Carla Anderson, both said Anza Hall told them about how she was treated but cautioned them, “Don’t make them mad, they’ll be mean to me.”
The plea agreement gave Cupp the latitude to grant probation, but he sent Tibble to jail for 15 months.
Cupp later said Tibble’s testimony wasn’t credible, according to the newspaper.
Litter control
officer arrested
for hiring murder
Chattanooga (AP) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reported that a Meigs (MEGGS’) County Sheriff’s Office employee has been arrested in a murder-for-hire scheme.
Jack “Jackie” Scroggins of Georgetown was charged Tuesday with solicitation to commit first-degree murder, according to TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm. The agency said the 52-year-old Scroggins was trying to hire the killing of his girlfriend’s ex-husband. An undercover agent said he met twice with Scroggins, who gave him $1,000 as an advance payment and $100 to buy a gun to commit the murder. Scroggins has worked for the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office for six years and is employed as a litter control officer.
Scroggins was held Wednesday in the Meigs County Jail, and a department dispatcher said she did not know whether he had an attorney.
Germantown deputy clerk resigns, admits theft
Germantown (AP) — A deputy court clerk in Germantown has resigned and an audit of city funds will be turned over to the district attorney’s office.
A city spokesman stated in a news release on Tuesday that Janet Donnell resigned after the accounting manager discovered a discrepancy.
City officials said Donnell admitted the theft and is cooperating with investigators, according to The Commercial Appeal (
Germantown City Administrator Patrick Lawton declined to say how much money was missing, Donnell, of Memphis, is 44 years old and made nearly $41,000 annually.
Inmate loses
case claiming abuse
by Tenn. guards
Nashville (AP) — An inmate convicted of killing a police officer has lost a bid to be compensated for what he claimed was mistreatment by guards at a Tennessee prison. A federal jury in Nashville Wednesday denied Michael Hart’s claims that he was assaulted by guards at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. Hart filed a $100,000 lawsuit against the guards, claiming they roughed them up. The inmate, wearing legal shackles and a cream-colored prison jumpsuit, represented himself in court on Tuesday. Guards testified that they used necessary force because Hart swung at them with a pencil and they later found a pocket knife in his underwear.
Hart is serving a life sentence for killing Jackson Police Officer Andy Bailey in 2004 while fleeing after snatching a woman’s purse outside a department store.
wcp 10/27/11


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