The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 13, 2013

Domestic call leads to drug, endangerment of a child charges

By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — A Mankato couple is facing felony drug charges because methamphetamine was found in their car by police officers responding to a domestic assault report.

Someone called 911 at about 9:45 p.m. Saturday to report a man was assaulting a woman in the parking lot at the CVS Pharmacy on Madison Avenue. A witness also told police she heard a baby cry while the man and woman were yelling at each other.

She also told police she watched as the man, later identified as 25-year-old James Anthony Laughter, punched the woman in the stomach and choked her. Laughter started running toward the witness when he realized she was watching, the witness reported. She said she drove away because she was frightened.

Laughter was eventually found at the McDonald’s restaurant a couple of blocks away. He was brought back to the pharmacy, where Jennah Marie Benson, 19, was talking to another officer. She had a toddler with her, according to the criminal complaints.

The officer with Laughter reported he suspected Benson had been using methamphetamine when he saw her. When the officer asked Benson if a drug dog would find anything, she allegedly said Laughter had a bag in their car.

When the car was searched, a black drawstring bag was found next to the 1-year-old boy who was in a car seat in the car. A digital scale and a glass pipe, both with suspected methamphetamine residue, also were found in the car.

Laughter had two prior domestic violence offenses in 2009.

Both Benson and Laughter are facing two counts of felony drug possession and one gross misdemeanor count of child endangerment.

Two felony counts of domestic assault also were filed against Laughter.