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Burke appears in court

January 3, 2011

The man accused of killing a woman with his vehicle and leaving the scene of the crash was in court Monday.

Jonathan Caleb Burke, 31, of Newton, appeared in Catawba County District Court on charges of injury to real property and a motions violation.

Burke is charged with felony death by motor vehicle, driving while impaired and reckless driving to endanger after he allegedly struck and killed Tamara Wallis, of Newton, as she stood outside her home on N.C. 16 in September 2008.

Burke's attorney, David Moose, told Superior Court Judge Robert C. Ervin that he scheduled a meeting for Monday with Burke and Scott Reilly, another attorney.

Moose said Burke's case will be ready to present to the court Tuesday.

Wallis' family was told to be in the courtroom for Burke's Tuesday court appearance.

In other cases
Judges are expected to hear several other noteworthy cases in Catawba County court this week.

Tiffany Jade Vassello, 23, of Hickory, is charged in the hit-and-run death of Reynardo Funez. She allegedly struck Funez with her Nissan Xterra in July 2009 as he walked along U.S. 321. He died at the scene.

Vassello was indicted in 2010 on charges of felony hit-and-run, failure to maintain lane control and misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.

Vassello was scheduled to appear in superior court Monday. Information about the status of Vassello's case wasn't available as of press time.

Holly Lafone Specht, 30, of Hickory, is scheduled to appear in Catawba County Superior Court this week on charges of obtaining property by false pretenses, embezzlement by a public official or trustee and forgery of endorsement.

Specht allegedly embezzled money from the Webb A. Murray Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization when she served as treasurer during the 2008-09 school year. She allegedly stole money from the organization, including purchasing food from Sam's Club.

A grand jury indicted Specht on the charges in April.

Specht's attorney is Mark Killian, and his typical date for court appearances is Tuesday, according to the Catawba County Clerk of Court's Office.

John Lee Mitchell, 48, is charged in the death of 19-year-old Travis Baker, who was reported missing in 2007.

Mitchell is scheduled to appear in Superior Court this week on a murder charge.

Mitchell allegedly killed Baker after a dispute between the two men. Baker's remains were found in 2009, which is two years after Baker disappeared.

Mitchell was brought back to North Carolina from Florida and placed in Catawba County jail. He has no bond.

Mitchell's attorney is Lisa Dubs. Her court days are normally scheduled for Tuesdays.

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