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Mugger not first time offender

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By Damon Lawrence

The alleged mugging of an 84-year-old woman wasn’t Benjamin Heath Clark’s first run-in with the law this year. According to court records, Clark was arrested for public intoxication on Aug. 7. He was found guilty in September and fined $50.
Court records also show that Clark’s wife filed a petition for an order of protection against him. She alleged that Clark forced himself on her while she was sleeping.
Kingston police charged Clark with aggravated robbery last week for the alleged mugging that occurred on Dec. 3 outside of Angel Nails on North Kentucky Street. The elderly victim suffered a concussion and broken elbow.  
“The victim was bleeding pretty bad from her head,” the police report said. 
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The first-degree murder trial for Ralph O’Neal was postponed this month because of a jailhouse snitch.
O’Neal is accused of killing Ronnie Dean Cofer in August 2007. Cofer’s body was discovered in a ditch on Clax Gap Road.
O’Neal, who was sentenced to life in prison on federal drug charges in 2011, is currently being held at the Blount County Jail in Maryville. He was scheduled to stand trial for the Cofer murder last week.
“The main reason why the trial is not going to happen this term is because several weeks ago I received a letter in the mail from an inmate who had been housed with Mr. O’Neal in Blount County,” Assistant District Attorney General Bill Reedy said. “That letter led me to believe that this inmate might have some relevant new testimony for us.”     
Reedy said he had difficulty setting up an interview with the inmate because he was being prosecuted on federal charges.
“I had to negotiate my contact with him through the federal defenders office, which took some time to accomplish,” Reedy said. “That’s why it could not go to trial.”
Reedy said the O’Neal case could go to trial in the spring or summer criminal court term.
“We haven’t got a new date set yet,” he said.
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The three protesters who broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex in July face a new charge of injuring national-defense premises.
A federal grand jury indicted Michael Walli, Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed in August for destroying property at Y-12, depredation against property of the United States over $1,000 and trespassing.
The new charge of injuring national-defense premises was returned by a federal grand jury last week. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the new charge is the result of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and the Department of Energy’s Inspector General.   
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Harriman police assisted the U.S. Marshals Service in arresting a fugitive on Dec. 3. George Earl Jones, 56, was found at 210 Baumgardner Road.
“This suspect was wanted from Georgia for violation of probation (kidnapping/rape),” the warrant said.
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A Rhea County jury found state Rep. Jim Cobb not guilty of assault, according to The Herald-News.
Wanda Sue Goins told police she thought Cobb was going to hit her on Aug. 2 at a polling place. Cobb, R-Spring City, was arrested in October for assault and stood trial last month.
“The verdict speaks for itself,” Cobb was quoted by The Herald-News.
Cobb lost to Ron Travis in the District 31 Republican Primary. The district includes a portion of Roane County.