Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Sister of dismemberment victim wants details heard

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Cheryl Ann Durkin was the victim of a grisly dismemberment slaying — and her sister wants a jury to know all the details.

        “I think that the jury should know what happened to her. That's really an important part of the trial,” Karla Edwards of Madison Township said Tuesday.

        Defendant James Lee Lawson, 30, pleaded no contest Monday in Butler County Common Pleas Court to charges of tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse. Judge Patricia Oney found him guilty, said Butler County Sheriff's Maj. Anthony Dwyer.

        Mr. Lawson's lawyer, John H. Rion of Dayton, Ohio, couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday. But Ms. Edwards said she thought Mr. Rion's tactics were calculated to exclude certain information from the trial on the remaining murder charge, which is set for Dec. 6.

        Authorities have alleged that Mr. Lawson killed Ms. Durkin, 34, in February 1998, dismembered her with a power saw, then enlisted relatives to help hide the parts.

        His sister, Melissa Botts, 24, is awaiting sentencing on a charge of tampering with evidence. His mother, Ellen Kay Peck, 47, has served almost a year of a four-year sentence for obstructing justice and tampering with evidence.


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