August 8, 2014 11:53:32 AM
JACKSON -- Mississippi's attorney general has dropped criminal embezzlement charges against Republican state Rep. Brian Aldridge because of the death of a key witness.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports Attorney General Jim Hood said Thursday the testimony of Florence Aldridge, the Tupelo lawmaker's aunt, would have been needed in the trial scheduled to start in less than one week. She died in April.
Brian Aldridge and his parents, Janice and Louis Aldridge, were indicted on charges of embezzling funds from Florence Aldridge while Louis Aldridge had power of attorney over her estate while she was ill.
Hood said charges filed in 2013 would not be dropped against Aldridge's parents because testimony from an earlier civil trial can be used in the criminal trial.
"After the defendant was indicted by the Lee County Grand Jury, the victim passed away leaving no witness to testify as to the particular check signed by this defendant," Hood's spokeswoman Jan Schaefer said in an email late Thursday. "Although she testified against all three defendants and the chancery judge held all three liable, she did not testify about this particular check against this defendant.
"We believe that her sworn testimony against the other two defendants was properly preserved for the case to go forward against the other two defendants. Consequently, we are asking the court to dismiss the charges against one defendant. We will await the decision of the court on the motion to dismiss."
Aldridge's attorney, T.K. Moffett, did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press Thursday seeking comment.
Moffett told The Clarion-Ledger that the order, called a "nolle prosequi" has not yet been signed by all parties but should be official by next week.
"Brian is a fine young man and he is free to continue his life," Moffett said.
Aldridge was elected to the state House in 2003 and previously served as chair of the Mississippi Legislative Conservative Coalition.
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