Courthouse protester drops case

Karen Perdue, the Carson City woman who claims she was illegally removed from the courthouse steps while protesting, withdrew a complaint she filed last month against several Carson City judges and bailiffs.

Day Williams, Perdue's lawyer, said the complaint, which alleges civil rights violations, may be reinstated if efforts to secure a grand jury investigation into the 1997 death of Natasha Jennings are unsuccessful.

The complaint had been filed Jan. 19 in U.S. District Court in Reno.

Purdue has been protesting for several months, hoping Carson City law enforcement officials will reopen the Jennings case. At the time, investigators determined that her death stemmed from natural causes.

Perdue and Williams say that evidence is mysterious enough to necessitate further testing and development of new leads. "All I want is to guarantee that no questions remain unanswered," Perdue said.

They believe that some evidence suggests that the Jennings, 16 years old at the time, may have been raped and terrorized just days before she was found dead in the bathroom of her father's Mound House home.

Perdue also contends that several samples, such as fingernail scrapings and genital swabs, were collected but never tested. She says the findings of those tests - if the samples still exist - could shed some light on the cause of Jennings's death.

Perdue said she withdrew the complaint because "it's a little bit hard for one person to take on the whole city."

Earlier this month Williams expressed interest in being removed from the case, she said. Perdue hopes to continue the case, possibly with the help of American Civil Liberties Union legal counsel.

"If they can, I'll be happy to get another civil rights attorney," she said. "Hopefully when the ACLU is done and the case is done, I'll have some money which I can donate to the Jennings case."

Tom Patton, assistant attorney general and government defense counsel, would not comment on how his office intends to pursue the case considering Purdue's recent dismissal of the complaint. The dismissal came before his office responded to the allegations of civil rights violations.

Perdue and Williams still have a writ of mandamus filed with Carson City District Court demanding a death inquest into the Jennings case. They have 45 days to either comply with the request, or challenge it in Judge Michael Fondi's courtroom.

A death inquest uses a procedure similar to a grand jury. The case coroner and investigators compare information and determine whether the death necessitates further investigation.


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