Public Safety

Judge ups bond for Central City woman accused in cyclist death

A Central City woman accused of intentionally running over and killing a cyclist made her first appearance Wednesday morning in Linn County District Court.

Melinda Kay Lawrence, 59, faces charges of first-degree murder, homicide by vehicle and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred the night of August 30 when Lawrence drove a 2006 Buick Rendezvous over Jeffrey Alan Scott, 54, also of Central City, in the parking lot of a Dollar General store at 4 Barber St. in Central City, according to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office

In court Wednesday, Lawrence said she would hire her own attorney, and District Judge Casey D. Jones upped her bond from $750,000 to $1 million cash only.

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office said officers responded at about 11 p.m. on August 30 to the Dollar General parking lot for reports of a man — later identified as Scott — who was found unresponsive. The 911 caller performed CPR on Scott, but he was ultimately pronounced dead, according to an affidavit filed with the Linn County District Court.

Scott suffered a “crushing injury to his chest,” according to the criminal complaint, which resulted in his death.

The sheriff’s office said witnesses reported seeing a light-colored SUV leaving the scene with obvious front-end damage dragging an object lodged underneath the vehicle that was emitting sparks as it scraped against the road.

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As officers investigated the scene where Scott was found, another Linn County deputy stopped an SUV at Fifth Street, south of Grove Street, not far from the Dollar General store.

Records show the deputy noted the vehicle had front end damage and was dragging an object that was later identified as a bicycle cart. The driver was identified as Melinda Lawrence. The criminal complaint states Lawrence “showed outward signs of insobriety and failed field sobriety tests.”

Putting two and two together, the deputy realized he had stopped the vehicle suspected in the cyclist death, according to an affidavit, and took Lawrence into custody on a drunken driving charge.

Through their investigation, the sheriff’s office said it was determined Lawrence “willfully and deliberately” drover her vehicle over Scott “with the intent to commit an assault with a dangerous or deadly weapon,” and then fled the scene.

An affidavit states a friend of the victim told investigators Lawrence had been stalking Scott and had previously tried to run him off the road with her vehicle. The friend indicated Lawrence believed Scott had stolen from her.

Lawrence remains in custody at Linn County Jail. A second court appearance has not yet been scheduled.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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