Drug arrest photo wrong

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Right name, wrong photo.

A story in Friday's Tribune about last week's drug sweep that resulted in 25 arrests included the photograph of an 18-year-old Tiger Boulevard woman rather than the mug shot of a 29-year-old Franklin Avenue woman that should have accompanied the report.

Heather Dawn Hobby, 29, also known as Heather Armstrong, of 602 Franklin Ave., was arrested by Lewisburg Police Detective Santiago Mcklean on March 5 and booked into the county jail at 12:35 p.m. that Wednesday on two counts of selling illegal drugs and three counts of conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs.

Hobby's bond was set at $57,000 and she remained in the jail early Monday afternoon. She was scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a photo of Heather Renee Rogers, 18, of an apartment at 200 Tiger Blvd., is also in the county jail's computer database because of an earlier charge alleging that she had been driving on a suspended drivers license, according to the booking sheet bearing Rogers' photo.

It is that photo that was inadvertently provided to the newspaper along with the other mugshots of those arrested in the drug sweep and identified as Heather Hobby.

The mixup occurred, in part, because the software system used by Marshall County Jail officials labels pictures by a number associated with the booking record rather than by name.

As a result, the Marshall County Tribune received the wrong photo from the county and is hereby setting the record straight.

Heather Rogers' mother, Gidget Darnell, said that Rogers didn't even have a drivers license when she was stopped by Officer Denise Savage on Sept. 9, one day after her 18th birthday.

Rogers was driving without a license that day, according to her mother, because she had been a passenger in a vehicle driven by a one-legged man whose prosthesis malfunctioned. As a result, Rogers became the driver for the pair.

While Rogers has since obtained a license to drive, she didn't have one in September because at age 12, "she had an accident" while driving a vehicle in East Tennessee, where in court she was told she would never get a license until fines were paid or until she turned 18, Darnell said Monday during a telephone interview.

Darnell also reported that subsequently her daughter faced Lewisburg City Court Judge Roger Brandon. She recalls the judge advising Rogers not to return unless she had a license. Rogers "paid quite a pretty penny" to take the steps required to obtain the driver's license that she now has, Darnell said.

Now, Rogers says she wants people to know that she's not Heather Hobby and she has never been arrested in connection with drugs.

And, she wants an apology. She's receiving more than that as the circumstances of the allegations she faced are revealed.

The charge of driving on a suspended license was "retired" on Dec. 17 by Brandon, according to a deputy clerk at the Lewisburg City Court Clerk's Office. Only one other disposition could have been better; dismissal. Rogers was not found guilty by Brandon. The case was, in effect, set aside, the deputy clerk said. However, the charge can be brought back up and used against her if there's another incident that might prompt the court to consider her previous record.

No fine was assessed by the city court in December, but Rogers did have to pay $155 in court costs, according to the deputy clerk.

Effects of the misidentified photo on Friday came at a difficult time for Rogers' family. Darnell said her grandmother in law, Juanita Close, 73, died Feb. 29 at Marshall Medical Center. She was buried March 3.

As a result of the wrong photo being released, some of Rogers' and Darnell's neighbors have had unkind words for Rogers, according to Michael Bonino, Rogers' boyfriend.

Meanwhile, Heather Hobby faces an uncertain future like 25 other people arrested in the drug sweep.

Hobby was one of 25 arrested on March 5 and now she's one of at least 26 charged as a result of 125 warrants issued by Circuit Court Clerk Elinor Brandon Foster, who relied on sworn statements from the 17th Judicial District's Drug Task Force.

Among the suspects named in those warrants is Kasherra Deann Mitchell, 21, of 282 Cummings Circle, who was arrested by Deputy Lindsey Cook on Friday and booked into the jail at 9:20 a.m. Mitchell is charged with one count of simple possession of illegal drugs. She's since been released on $1,000 bond.

Because she was released on bond, her court date is March 25, according to county jail records clerk Joanne Sellers.