Judge Tosses Widow’s|Claim Against USA

SAN DIEGO (CN) – A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit from a woman convicted – then cleared – of murdering her husband, a Marine sergeant.
     Cynthia Sommer sued the United States, the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, et al., claiming they negligently and maliciously caused her to be prosecuted for the death of her husband, Scott. He died on Feb. 18, 2002 while the couple lived with their four children in base housing at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
     A state court jury convicted Sommer of first-degree murder in 2007, but the trial judge overturned the verdict, finding that prosecutors’ description of her “party lifestyle” after her husband died was so inflammatory it deprived her of a fair trial.
     Initial analysis claimed to have found high levels of arsenic in the sergeant’s blood and organs, but in preparation for retrial, additional tests found no arsenic, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement Thursday. The district attorney dismissed the case without prejudice in April 2008, and Sommer was released after spending more than 2 years in custody.
     She sued in 2009, claiming that Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents “intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her and failed to conduct a proper investigation because they disapproved of her partying lifestyle,” the U.S. attorney said in the statement. She also claimed that agents improperly arrested her, withheld key evidence and failed to disclose relevant facts that could have benefited her defense.
     U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo on Thursday granted summary judgment to the defendants, finding “that the evidence fails to raise a triable issue of fact.”

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