Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Killer denied another trial

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN — A Middletown man convicted in a slaying and dismemberment won't get a new trial, the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

        The court denied James Lee Lawson's appeal, in which he had alleged eight errors were committed during his 1999 Butler County Common Pleas Court trial. The appeals court overruled all eight.

        Mr. Lawson, convicted in the death of Cheryl Ann Durkin, 34, is serving 20 years to life for murder, gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

        Dan Eichel, a Butler County assistant prosecutor, said Mr. Lawson would have 45 days to file an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. His lawyer, Fred Miller of Hamilton, couldn't be reached for comment.

        Ms. Durkin's sister, Karla Edwards, 43, of Madison Township, said family members are hoping the case ends here.

        “They can overturn these things just for one word being said or something like that. It was a real big relief to hear about the decision,” Ms. Edwards said Monday.

        She was among a dozen of Ms. Edwards' relatives who attended oral arguments in the case in March.

        Ms. Durkin disappeared in February 1998; her torso was found in the Great Miami River two months later, and her other body parts were recovered by the end of 1998. Mr. Lawson was convicted in December 1999.


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