Election contest nearing end?

Published 10:52 am Friday, July 3, 2009

It won’t be over until the judge says the final word, but the election contest between Pike County District 6 Commissioner Karen Berry and Oren Fannin could end this week.

The trial that will likely be the case’s last will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Pike County Circuit Court.

Evidence was reopened in the trial after Fannin and attorney Joel LeeWilliams filed motion in court asking to bring one final witness to the stand, Berry’s daughter-in-law.

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Fannin is contesting Berry’s win by six votes in the Nov. 4, 2008, election.

The case was originally tried in April, but the trial was set to reconvene because three votes still remained in question. They were a family of three county residents who voted absentee in the election for Berry, but were contested to live outside the district.

Due to a medical emergency, none of the voters were present at the original trial to testify to where they live.

But, before the parties returned to court, both Williams and Berry’s attorney Frank Ralph agreed that those voters did not live in District 6.

Judge Joel Holley, who is ruling in the case, then gave attorneys 10 days to make closing arguments in writing before he reached a verdict.

However, Williams soon after requested to reopen evidence in trial.

This came when he, according to the motion filed in the Pike County Circuit Court, spoke with Berry’s daughter-in-law Ashley Berry, who was not present but called to the original trial.

The court file said she told Williams she never received her subpoena to appear in court and would have been present to testify if she had.

“(The) plaintiff’s counsel has recently communicated with (Ashley Berry), wherein she represented that she did not receive her subpoena, although, Brent Berry (Ashley’s husband), in fact testified that she had received her subpoena but could not appear due to a work

conflict,” the motion reads. “The said Ashley Berry has stated that she had no work conflict, did not receive the subpoena and would have been present at the trial had she known.”

And if present, the file said Ashley Berry would have testified to having not voted absentee for Karen Berry in the election, despite an absentee ballot in evidence with her name and signature on it.

Williams said Ashley Berry will be called to testify by him Thursday.

Ralph did not return phone calls for comment.