Thursday, August 24, 2000

Charges dropped in death of woman

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Prosecutors know George Laub and Cheryl Simpson spent most of their time together drinking whisky and fighting.

        They just aren't sure whether either of those activities caused Ms. Simpson's death.

        Their uncertainty prompted Common Pleas Judge Thomas Crush on Wednesday to throw out murder charges that had accused Mr. Laub of strangling Ms. Simpson, 41, during an argument on June 14.

        Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said it was impossible to proceed with a murder trial when a coroner's report listed the cause of death as “undetermined.”

        “We can't go forward with a case that we know we won't be able to prove,” Mr. Allen said.

        Ms. Simpson's family members were furious. They said they have no doubt Mr. Laub caused her death.

        “Somebody's not doing their job,” said Charlene Hoffman, Ms. Simpson's sister. “She was beaten from head to toe. You can't tell me she died from other causes.”

        Confusion over the cause of death began when a pathologist at the coroner's office found bruises on Ms. Simpson's neck and concluded she had been strangled.

        But Coroner Dr. Carl Parrott changed that ruling when lab testing revealed more evidence.

        Dr. Parrott said the tests determined most of the injuries were superficial and probably did not lead to Ms. Simpson's death. The tests also found “a potentially life-threatening degree of dehydration.”

        The coroner concluded that Ms. Simpson had been a victim of domestic violence but may have died because of complications from chronic alcoholism.

        “Honesty and scientific integrity require that we interpret the available information in an unbiased manner,” Dr. Parrott said in a statement, “even at the risk of allowing a possibly guilty party to escape prosecution.”

        Ms. Simpson's body was found in bed at Mr. Laub's home in Lower Price Hill. He told police he found her dead beside him in the morning.

        Mr. Laub, 42, said he did not recall what happened after he and Ms. Simpson, his girlfriend, shared a half-gallon of whisky.

        His attorney, Tim Cutcher, said his client conceded he could have hurt his girlfriend while trying to restrain her during an argument. But he did not recall a fight.

        “She died of extreme dehydration,” Mr. Cutcher said. “There was no serious physical harm.”

        Mr. Laub declined comment.


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