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Rawlings sentenced to house arrest

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
March 22, 2001
A Meridian woman who served no jail time after pleading guilty in May to leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death will serve roughly 15 months of house arrest after violating the terms of her probation.
The agreement was reached by state and defense attorneys Wednesday prior to Tabitha Rawlings' revocation hearing.
Rawlings' May conviction stems from an early morning accident in June 1999 that took the life of 44-year-old James E. Gresham as he walked along North Hills Street. Police investigators said Rawlings failed to stop or notify authorities after she struck Gresham with her car, and then concealed the crime.
In that case, Rawlings pleaded guilty and received a five-year prison sentence with five years suspended and five years probation.
Seven months later, in December, Rawlings was charged with DUI.
Circuit Judge Robert Bailey said her probation officer filed a complaint following the DUI arrest, saying she had violated the conditions of her probation by not reporting the arrest and by consuming alcohol. Rawlings' blood alcohol level at the time of her December arrest was .102 percent. The DUI arrest was the second for the 28-year-old woman; she was convicted of an unrelated DUI in 1996.
The most recent DUI charge was dismissed in Justice Court after attorney Sonny Jones argued there was no probable cause to pull Rawlings over since the initial traffic stop was for a tail light violation and for failure to use a turn signal.
Gresham's sister said she was sickened by the agreement.
Rawlings was given 84 days credit for jail time served, leaving her 15 months to serve on the house arrest program.
Bailey said if Rawlings violates the conditions of the house arrest program, she will be transported to the Mississippi Department of Corrections with no further hearings.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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