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Flu shortens Lyons session

Early witnesses, before court is adjourned for the day, include Henry J. Lyons' secretary.

Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 13, 1999

A Ministry in Question: more Times coverage of the Rev. Henry Lyons

LARGO -- Testimony in the state racketeering trial of Baptist leader Henry J. Lyons and his former aide Bernice Edwards was cut short Friday by something neither the defense nor prosecution could stop: The flu bug.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer halted testimony early after Edwards reported she had a fever and other flu-like symptoms. With Edwards' consent, the judge allowed one witness to testify without Edwards in the courtroom before adjourning for the day.

Earlier, Lyons' secretary testified that a letter sent to the Anti-Defamation League assuring that $225,000 the ADL gave Lyons to rebuild burned black churches had been spent was mailed in error. Prosecutors say he stole most of the money.

Deborah Blake said Lyons had dictated the letter to her and she had stamped his signature on it. "I made a mistake in preparing the letter to go out in the mail," she testified.

Lyons' attorneys say he was still investigating which churches needed the money.


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