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Charges dropped against wife in judge-threat case

May 8, 2017

The wife of an Indiana Court of Appeals judge is no longer facing criminal charges for allegedly making threats against the judge that she told police were made by their son-in-law.

Beverly “Star” Cochran, the wife of Judge Edward Najam, was charged in May 2015 with Level 6 felony obstruction of justice and Class A misdemeanor false reporting. But as a trial date approached, the charges no longer appeared on the Odyssey case management system, indicating a possible expungement. The Monroe County Clerk’s Office confirmed that no criminal case against Cochran remained active, but could provide no further details.

Investigators filed the charges in Monroe County against Cochran almost two years ago after she reported to police threatening text messages she said were sent by the son-in-law. She told authorities she was worried Najam might harm the son-in-law.

But police say during their investigation they learned Cochran was the source of the texts. Authorities said she admitted to purchasing a cellphone and sending threatening messages to her husband, knowing he would think they were from their son-in-law, a probable cause affidavit said.

Under Indiana law, a prosecutor would need to approve expungement of the felony count against Cochran. Monroe County deputy prosecutor Robert Miller said Monday he could not discuss the case “for legal reasons.” He declined to say whether charges against Cochran had been dismissed and expunged, but he said in such a hypothetical case, authorities would be forbidden by law from discussing it.

Consent of the prosecutor’s office would have been required to dismiss and expunge the charges against Cochran. Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal did not reply to messages seeking comment.

Najam denied having any knowledge that his wife was behind the threats, the affidavit said. But he did admit to police that he had talked to Cochran about protecting his family “by any means necessary,” but said he only would’ve taken action in self-defense or to defend his wife and adoptive daughter.

Najam did not return messages left with the Court of Appeals seeking comment. Cochran’s attorney, Ronald L. Chapman, did not reply to messages seeking comment.
 

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