Attorney in Bentley case says there's no crime
WOODSTOCK – An attorney for a woman accused of lying to police as they investigated her friend's disappearance is asking a judge to toss the case, saying prosecutors haven't actually stated a crime.
Jennifer Wyatt-Paplham, 38, of Woodstock was charged in March with two counts of obstructing justice related to Beth Bentley, who was last seen May 23, 2010.
Police have said that Wyatt lied to them when she said she did not have contact with Bentley on or after May 25, 2010. They also say that Wyatt lied when she said she dropped Bentley off at an Amtrak station in Centralia so that Bentley could take a train back to Chicago.
Phone records indicate that Wyatt made a call to Bentley's number later than she initially told police and that contact was made "numerous times," investigators said. At least one call lasted for at least five minutes, but it is unknown whether Bentley herself answered the call.
According to a motion to dismiss filed this week by Wyatt's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Kim Messer, the legal definition of obstruction of justice includes that the act be done "to prevent the apprehension or obstruct the prosecution or defense of any person."
This includes furnishing false information.
But there is "no allegation that this act was done to prevent the apprehension, prosecution or defense of anyone," Messer said.
Wyatt has said that after a weekend trip to Mount Vernon, about 80 miles east of St. Louis, she dropped Bentley off across the street from an Amtrak station. Amtrak had no records of Bentley buying a ticket, and no one saw her in the vicinity.
Wyatt didn’t wait for her friend to be picked up or to board the train, a fact that “haunts me every day,” she said a year after the disappearance.
Arguments on the motion to dismiss are scheduled for July 25.
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