Friday, July 14, 2000

Lawyer disputes 'harassing' calls

Client in court, but new charges might be filed

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — The criminal case involving Larry Mullins' alleged crank phone call to the family of a woman missing for 10 years will focus on his intentions, his attorney said Thursday.

        Carl Ferris, Mr. Mullins' attorney, said authorities have a tape of a message Mr. Mullins left in January on the answering machine of the family of 18-year-old Karen Spencer.

        Police say Mr. Mullins, 58, of Hamilton, falsely claimed in the message to know where the woman's body was buried.

        Police say he violated a misdemeanor telephone harassment law that prohibits people from leaving messages in a harassing manner.

        “In a harassing manner — that's the key phrase,” Mr. Ferris said Thursday after a private meeting with prosecutors in the judge's chambers at Butler County Area I Court.

        “What does that mean?” he said. “What was the purpose or the intent of the call?”

        Police believe this could be one of more than 100 crank telephone calls Mr. Mullins made to relatives of victims of crimes and fatal traffic accidents years after they occurred.

        Judge Rob Lyons postponed Thursday's pretrial hearing to Aug. 10.

        Mr. Mullins, who was accompanied by three people, sat in the courtroom while his attorney met with Judge Lyons and Assistant Prosecutor Scott Blauvelt.

        Mr. Ferris said that he, Judge Lyons and the prosecution want to see whether the Butler County Sheriff's Department will file more charges against Mr. Mullins before proceeding with this case.

        Judge Lyons also wanted to hear the tape of Mr. Mullins' call, he said.

        Mr. Mullins also has been charged with obstructing official business in Clermont County.

        Police confiscated more than 230 journals that they say are filled with detailed notes and newspaper clippings about missing persons and fatal traffic accidents.


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