Ellis County Observer publisher Joey Dauben finally gets a court-appointed attorney

Joey Dauben

Joey Dauben, the publisher of the now-defunct Ellis County Observer, finally got to see a court-appointed lawyer this week to help him fight the three felony counts of child sexual abuse that have kept him in the Navarro County Jail without legal advice for almost two months now.

Edward Jendrzey, whose office is in Waxahachie in Ellis County, received the court-ordered appointment Thursday, Feb. 16. Jendrzey accepted the case after Steve Keathley, a Corsicana attorney whose wife is the president of the Navarro County Bar Association, declined an appointment by District Court Judge James Lagomarsino to represent the journalist.

In a telephone interview today, Jendrzey said, “Yes, he knows I’m representing him,” when asked whether he had met with his new client, who reached out for help from the media this week in a handwritten letter from jail. When a defendant declares himself to be indigent and asks for a court-appointed attorney, that is supposed to occur within 72 hours. In the letter, Dauben also again claimed he is innocent of the charges.

Jendrzey said his first step in Dauben’s representation will be to conduct an independent investigation of the case to learn the circumstances and to attempt to get Dauben’s $200,000 bond set by Lagomarsino lowered. “I’ll be meeting with the prosecutor about that,” Jendrzey said. Dauben’s family and friends have been unable to raise the 10 percent (or $20,000) payment bond agencies typically charge to get a defendant released from jail.

—  admin

German court finds HIV-positive singer guilty for having unprotected sex; no jail time

CHRISTOPH NOELTING  |  Associated Press

DARMSTADT, Germany — A German girl band singer broke down in tears Thursday, Aug. 26 as a court found her guilty of causing bodily harm to her ex-boyfriend by having unprotected sex with him despite knowing she was infected with HIV. She was not sentenced to jail time.

Nadja Benaissa, a member of No Angels, was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and 300 hours community service after she was convicted in a Darmstadt administrative court. She faced a possible ten years behind bars.

The court ruled that the 28-year-old had infected a former boyfriend with the virus that causes AIDS by having unprotected sex with him.

Benaissa helped her case during the trial, which began Aug. 16, by acknowledging she had unprotected sex despite knowing she was HIV-positive and saying it was a big mistake.

“I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart,” Benaissa said, adding that she had realized how much her ex-boyfriend was still suffering.

“I wish I could turn back time and make everything undone,” she told the court. “But I know that he will never forgive me.”

Prosecutor Peter Liesenfeld said he thought the sentence was appropriate.

“We have to remember that she was a lot younger than she is now, she had a turbulent life, and the acts were committed a long time ago,” he told Associated Press Television News. “I think a suspended sentence is justified.”

Benaissa left the courtroom without making any comment but her attorney Oliver Wallasch noted that she had said during the trial that she thought she deserved to be punished for her actions.

“We managed to avoid a jail sentence for my client and with the conditions of the sentence she received, including some community service which she said was justified during the trial, the sentence was satisfactory for the defense and my client,” he said.

The man who claimed Benaissa infected him said they had a three-month relationship at the beginning of 2004 and that he got tested after Benaissa’s aunt asked him in 2007 whether he was aware that the singer was HIV-positive.

Benaissa said she didn’t tell anybody about her disease because she was afraid of the consequences — which she described during the trial as a “cowardly act.”

During the trial, microbiologist Josef Eberle, who examined the viruses of both Benaissa and her ex-boyfriend, told the court “in all probability” the singer was responsible for infecting the 34-year-old man with the virus that causes AIDS.

Both were suffering from a very rare type of the virus that was first found in western Africa, he said.

Benaissa told the court she became addicted to crack cocaine at 14 and that during her pregnancy at 16, she found out that she was HIV positive.

After winning a TV talent show, “Popstars,” in 2000, she joined No Angels with four other young women and hid her illness from everyone. No Angels sold more than 5 million albums before breaking up in 2003.

Along with three other members from the original band, Benaissa helped re-form the group in 2007. They performed to a disastrous response in the 2008 Eurovision song contest, coming in 23rd out of 25 contestants.

No Angels were heading into a concert in Frankfurt in April 2009, when Benaissa was taken into custody and kept for 10 days _ a move that a German AIDS awareness group criticized as disproportionate.

The Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe group argued her partners also carried a share of the responsibility for becoming infected, and criticized the verdict.

“If the responsibility for prevention is put entirely upon women and HIV-positive people, we are not recognizing the combined responsibility of two people,” said spokeswoman Marianne Rademacher.

—  John Wright

Charges dismissed in alleged attack on gay teen in Kentucky

Associated Press

MCKEE, Ky. — A judge has dismissed charges against two eastern Kentucky teens accused of attacking a gay classmate.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports prosecutor George T. Hays said Thursday, Aug. 19 that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Corinne Schwab and Ashley Sams, both 18. They were charged with fourth-degree assault and menacing in the alleged attack on 18-year-old Cheyenne Williams.

Earlier this week, District Judge Henria Bailey-Lewis acquitted a juvenile who also was charged in the case.

Williams had accused the others of taking her to a rural area of the county on April 16, hitting her with sticks and threatening to push her over a cliff because she is gay.

The four teens attended Jackson County High School at the time of the alleged attack and had been friends.

—  John Wright