Public Safety

Central City woman faces first degree murder charge after intentionally driving over man in parking lot

A Linn County Sheriff's Office squad car. (file photo)
A Linn County Sheriff's Office squad car. (file photo)

By Kat Russell, The Gazette

It was no accident that a driver ran into and killed a bicyclist last month in the parking lot of a Dollar General store in Central City, according to Linn County Sheriff’s Office investigators.

Melinda Kay Lawrence, 59, of Central City intentionally aimed her 2006 Buick Rendezvous at the bike being ridden by Jeffrey Alan Scott, 54, also of Central City, about 11 p.m. Aug. 30, authorities said.

She was arrested Tuesday afternoon and faces charges of first-degree murder, homicide by vehicle and leaving the scene of a fatal accident, officials said.

A friend of the victim told authorities Lawrence believed Scott had stolen from her, and so she had been stalking him — running him off the road in a previous encounter, court papers show.
That stalking turned deadly late that Thursday night, according to the affidavit filed in Linn County District Court.

A witness performed CPR and called 911. Crews arrived at the store, 4 Barber St., but found Scott unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

That same witness, along with a second one, reported seeing a vehicle with damage to its front end leaving the area while dragging some kind of object under it that was causing sparks to fly as it scraped against the road.

While investigators and emergency personnel worked the scene where Scott was killed, Deputy Dan Williams came upon a sport utility vehicle on Fifth Street, south of Grove Street, not far from the Dollar General store.

According to the affidavit, Williams saw that the Buick Rendezvous was “dragging debris under it, causing sparks.” Concerned the SUV was on fire, he pulled it over.

The driver, identified as Melinda Lawrence, showed signs of intoxication and failed a field sobriety test, records show.

It was not until that traffic stop that Williams learned of the grim scene outside the store nearby.

“After hearing the details of the injured subject, a description of the vehicle leaving the scene, (observing) damage to the vehicle he stopped and other evidence in the roadway leading back to the injured subject, (Williams) believed the driver had struck the victim and left the scene,” the affidavit states.

Lawrence was detained on a drunken driving charge. A blood test conducted on a warrant found she had a blood alcohol level of .168 percent, twice the legal limit, according to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office.

In a statement Tuesday, the Sheriff’s Office said its investigation showed “Lawrence was operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, and willfully and deliberately drove her vehicle at and struck Scott while he was on or beside his bicycle with the intent to commit an assault with a dangerous or deadly weapon.”

The Sheriff’s Office said Lawrence illegally left the scene, knowing that Scott had been struck and injured.
Lawrence was being held Tuesday the at Linn County Correction Facility on a $750,000 cash-only bail. She likely will make her first appearance Wednesday morning in Linn County District Court.

l Comments: 319-398-8238;

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