A jury in Texas County Tuesday found a former Rolla City Council member not guilty of an assault charge filed against her in 2010.
Donna D. Hawley, who served on the council in Ward 6 from 2008 to 2010, had been charged with assault in the second degree, a class C felony, after she allegedly attempted to physically force her way into a meeting held in March 2009 about Missouri Public Energy Pool (MOPEP) billings.
The charge against Hawley was filed over a year after the meeting took place that involved management at Rolla Municipal Utilities (RMU) and representatives from other muncipalities at Rolla City Hall.
Hawley, who believed the meeting to qualify as an open public meeting under Missouri’s Sunshine Law, attempted to enter the meeting room and was accused of injuring RMU finance manager Dennis Roberts after she attempted to force her way past him.
Roberts claimed in 2010 that by doing so, Hawley injured his right wrist.
Hawley was represented by Rolla public defender and attorney Matthew Crowell, who told The Rolla Daily News Thursday, “Obviously we’re very happy with the results and Miss Hawley was ecstatic. She waited four years for vindication.”
Crowell said it was unfortunate it took that long. “Justice was served, but it was delayed,” he said.
“It didn’t take them (jurors) too long to realize that or maybe they already had their minds made up that there was at least no assault by Miss Hawley,” Crowell said.
While the trial lasted nearly 12 hours, the jury deliberated for only about 20 minutes, according to Crowell.
The plaintiff, which was the state of Missouri, was represented by Theodore Bruce, assistant attorney general.
Circuit Judge Bill Hickle presided over the case, which lasted only one day. The jury trial had been rescheduled numerous times since 2011, according to Missouri case.net, before it was finally held May 14.
The case was moved to Texas County on a change of revenue request. Hawley now lives in Springfield.