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Lab owner wants evidence tossed because of lack of coffee

WATER VALLEY — A laboratory owner charged with faking wastewater samples wants a judge to dismiss evidence taken from her computer because she claims she was stressed, “without coffee” and intimidated when she gave it to federal agents.

Tennie White, owner of Mississippi Environmental Analytical Laboratories Inc., faces trial tomorrow on charges of faking wastewater samples that she was hired to test for a company.

A court filing from White’s lawyer Wednesday said that Environmental Protection Agency investigators interrogated White in January 2010 without search and arrest warrants.

White says she was intimidated into handing over the hard drive and even wrote the words “stressed and without coffee and sufficiently intimidated” on the property receipt she signed.

Prosecutors responded in a court filing last week that said White has no evidence of intimidation and signed a consent form allowing for the search of the hard drive.

“Entirely without evidentiary support in the form of an affidavit or other proof, defendant White asserts-solely on the strength of words she added to the consent she signed that she was ‘intimidated’ into giving the hard drive to the agents,” prosecutors wrote.

White is charged with two counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction.

The Nov. 7 indictment says that Borg Warner Emissions Systems Inc. hired White to test wastewater discharge at its car parts plant in Water Valley. The tests were used for reports that were submitted to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. The indictment does not accuse the company of wrongdoing.

The indictment alleges that White created three reports in 2009 that indicated testing had been done, when it had not.

In a separate filing Friday, White’s lawyer asked the judge to prevent prosecutors from telling jurors that White allegedly lied in the past about graduating from Millsaps College in 1981.

“This evidence has no relevance to the case at bar and is highly prejudicial,” federal public defender Abby Brumley wrote in the filing.

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