By Joe Beck
Julia E. Souter is facing more trouble with the law as she nears completion of a six-month jail sentence linked to a battle with zoning officials in Warren County over the condition of her property at 471 Apple Jack Circle in Linden.
Shenandoah County authorities charged Souter with assault and battery Jan. 8 after an incident in the Shenandoah County jail where she has been serving her sentence for the past several months.
A criminal complaint filed against Souter, 51, in general district court states that Mary M. Hinkle, another jail inmate, reported around 6:50 a.m. Jan. 8 that Souter attacked her.
Hinkle told sheriff's deputy W.C. Collins that she had left a bench in a common area of the jail to get a cup of coffee, according to the complaint. The complaint states that Hinkle then claimed that Souter took the spot on the bench she had just vacated.
Hinkle reported the two women exchanged words before Souter "swung her arm backwards striking Hinkle in the chest with an open hand."
The complaint states Souter's version of events was "consistent" with Hinkle's.
Shenandoah County Capt. Wesley Delligner said no one was injured. Souter is scheduled to appear in general district court at 11 a.m. Feb. 28.
Souter was jailed Aug. 9 after Judge Dennis L. Hupp found her in contempt of court for not cleaning up a yard that zoning officials determined to be a cluttered with debris, an inoperative vehicle and other material unsuited for outdoor storage.
Assistant Warren County Attorney Dan Whitten said Tuesday that authorities transferred Souter to the Shenandoah County jail in October or November after the Warren County jail grew too crowded.
"Basically the jail was at capacity and some of the inmates, I believe, they were sent to Woodstock," Whitten said.
Whitten said the county is continuing to insist that Souter clean up her property. She is scheduled to complete her sentence on the contempt charge on Feb. 9 at which time the county intends to seek a court order allowing for the hiring of a third party to clean up the property, Whitten said.
The county will seek to have a lien placed on Souter's property to cover the cost of clean up if she fails to pay, Whitten said.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org