UPDATE: Jonesboro, LA -- After two weeks of testimony and evidence the State rests it's case in the trial of Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson. He's facing felony malfeasance in office charges. Friday a witness testified that defense attorneys told her how to answer questions on the stand.
More than a dozen witnesses took the stand on behalf of the prosecution in the case against Thompson. In the final day of State testimony, former town clerk Melba Holland took the stand. She testified Mayor Thompson did not cancel benefits for employees who were working fewer than the required hours to be considered full-time or ask those employees to work more hours.
During cross-examination by the defense, Holland said it was the stress from ongoing investigations into the town that caused her to resign.
After a recess, Holland took the stand for a second time and recanted her testimony, saying defense attorney Carol Powell Lexing had told her how to answer questions.
"The witness was totally incorrect in her testimony this morning. She appeared to be nervous and I don't think she understood that it is a lawyer's job to interview witnesses prior to court," says Lexing, who had the option to take the stand on the issue, but told the judge she would not.
"I just really think that was a dilatory tactic that some lawyers use," says Lexing.
During questioning, Lexing said Holland had committed perjury if she did lie on the stand.
"I don't see any charges. I just see a witness that was very nervous and intimated by the whole judicial process," says Lexing.
After Holland was excused, the former accountant for the town took the stand. She said she had compiled time sheets into a spread sheet and determined six employees were not working enough hours to be considered full-time according to the town policy. She says Mayor Thompson fired her twice after approaching him about the issues and concerns about writing checks to those employees for holiday time.
Now the defense will begin presenting it's case Monday morning.
"We feel very confident. We will get the chance to tell to our side of the story. Starting Monday we will call our first witness and put on evidence," says Lexing.
And with more than 30 witnesses subpoenaed, it could be another lengthy presentation as the trial enters it's third week.
ORIGINAL STORY: Jonesboro, LA. -- The former Jonesboro town clerk, Melba Holland, was the first witness to testify this morning on day 10 of the malfeasance in office trial of Mayor Leslie Thompson. Holland, who resigned last year, testified that the Mayor Thompson would not make town employees work full-time hours or cancel them from the insurance.
During cross-examination by defense attorneys, Holland also testified that she resigned due to stress caused by fiscal administrator Bill Ryder, investigative auditors, and the Sheriff's Office investigation, not the mayor. Later, she testified to the state that the mayor has caused her stress.
After a morning recess, the state called Holland back to the stand. At that point, she testified that defense attorney Carol Powell Lexing had called her at her house, told her the questions that would be asked and how to answer them. Lexing denied the claims, but was told by the judge she would have to take the stand if she felt she needed to testify on the situation.
Prosecutors still have one witness to call to the stand this afternoon. We'll have an update on KTVE 10 News at 5 & 6.
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