updated 7/31/2008 3:56:36 PM ET 2008-07-31T19:56:36

The widow of a district attorney who was believed stomped to death by his cattle 16 years ago surrendered to authorities Thursday on a murder charge.

The indictment charges Raynella Dossett Leath, 59, with first-degree murder in the 1992 death of William Edward Dossett.

Dossett Leath also faces a murder charge in the 2003 death of her second husband.

She was released on $25,000 bail. Her attorney, James Bell, said she will plead not guilty to Dossett's death, just as she as did to her second husband's death.

At the time of the district attorney's death, officials ruled he was knocked down and trampled by cattle in his pasture.

Morphine overdose?
But questions about whether he was drugged emerged in January during hearings about whether to exhume his body. A medical examiner testified that toxicology reports completed after the district attorney's autopsy in 1992 indicated he may have died instead from an overdose of morphine.

Dossett Leath is a former nurse.

Dossett had a surgically installed a morphine pump to treat pain caused by his terminal cancer, but prosecutors have said the amount of morphine found in his system was so high the district attorney likely would not have been able to walk.

"I hate it has taken so long a period of time to move toward resolution of Ed Dossett's death," said special prosecutor Richard Fisher. "Justice doesn't always move this slow, but at least it is moving forward."

Exhumation possible
Fisher said he expected to make another request to exhume the body, though he suggested other evidence has been uncovered by cold case investigators at the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

Dossett Leath is accused of fatally shooting her second husband, David Leath, a barber and lifelong friend of her first husband. She claims the retired barber committed suicide.

Prosecutors have said there are similarities between the deaths. Leath was found to have painkillers and antidepressants that were not prescribed for him in his system at the time of his death.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments