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Trial testimony unfolds

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Feb. 23, 2001
The third day of the trial of Ray Boswell opened with testimony that prospective voters provided the District 5 supervisor with information to fill out their own voter registration forms.
Boswell is accused of delivering the false voter registration forms of six people who live outside his district and of attempting to falsely register two others during his November 1999 campaign.
Patrick Swanner, the son of Boswell's lifelong friend, Tincy Swanner, testified that in April 1999 he provided Boswell with an address and other information for Boswell to write on a mail-in voter registration form. He also testified he provided Boswell with information about his sister, and then slipped away to forge her name on the form.
When asked if he had provided an earlier statement to investigators that Boswell told him to "do the best he could" in forging his sister's signature, Patrick Swanner answered "yes."
Prosecutors then called Tincy Swanner, who testified he cannot read, so he asked Boswell to fill out his voter registration form. He said Boswell dropped off the forms for himself and several others at a local game room. The applications were brought there by Boswell at the request of the owner of the game room, he said.
Tincy Swanner said he lived at the game room, or in a trailer outside the Highway 496 game room when he provided Boswell with the Highway 496 address.
Boswell left the forms for the potential voters to sign, then returned later to collect the applications, he said.
Maggie Davenport, who owns the game room, testified later in the day she asked Boswell to deliver the forms to urge her children to register to vote. Her testimony seemed to corroborate that of Tincy Swanner's in that Boswell left the forms to be signed and returned later to retrieve them.
Also testifying was Paul Stapleton and his wife, Kimberly, who said they met Boswell at their parents' Bunk Newell Road home. Paul Stapleton, a City of Meridian Public Works employee, said he and his wife agreed to register to vote but were under the impression they could register in any district.
Paul Stapleton said both he and his wife informed Boswell they lived at a 31st Avenue address in the city, and they signed the application forms without first reading what Boswell had written on the forms. Paul Stapleton's form included a 1971 birth date and listed him as being 71 years old as well.
The inconsistency was noticed by Circuit Clerk Donna Jill Johnson, who testified on Wednesday. Presiding Circuit Judge Robert. L. Goza told jurors on Wednesday of an ill relationship between Johnson and Boswell, but that Johnson never expressed her discontent with the supervisor to people who had come into her office to register to vote.
Also taking the stand was Roger Cribb, a state investigator, who testified he concentrated his efforts on Boswell because that's where evidence from interviews led him.
One of the last witnesses testifying for the day was L.B. Gressett, who said he had done some refrigeration work for Boswell. Gressett testified he provided voter registration forms for Angela Collis and a man whom she was with when she brought an air conditioner to Boswell's business for repair.
He said he also collected those forms once they had been filled out and signed and gave them to Boswell's assistant. Boswell is accused of delivering those forms, both of which contained a false address and one of which contained a forged signature, to the Lauderdale County Circuit Clerk.
The trial is expected to conclude today.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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