southworth case

Judge seals information about alleged domestic violence in Southworth case

slain wife, 3 other women involved in allegations

jhewlett@herald-leader.comNovember 19, 2011 

A judge has granted a motion permitting prosecutors to file information under seal about alleged incidents of domestic violence that prosecutors say involved murder defendant Donald Southworth Jr.

Southworth, with defense attorney Tucker Richardson at his side, appeared Friday before Judge Kimberly Bunnell during a hearing on the motion in Fayette Circuit Court.

Southworth, 48, is charged with murder in the fatal beating of his wife, Umi Southworth, in June 2010.

Earlier this month, Assistant Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Lou Anna Red Corn sought to file under seal a pleading about alleged domestic violence involving Donald Southworth and Umi Southworth, and involving Donald Southworth and Nirmayati Southworth, Geetha Harward and Yogi Hesti. Red Corn said in the motion that sealing the pleading would prevent information that might be deemed inadmissible at trial from interfering with the seating of a jury.

Yogi Hesti lived with Donald and Umi Southworth at one time and has a daughter with Donald Southworth. Hesti has accused Donald Southworth of assault.

The daughter of Donald and Umi Southworth, Almira Southworth, is a child folk singer. At one point after Umi Southworth's death, Yogi Hesti was granted custody of Almira.

Nirmayati Southworth is a former wife of Donald Southworth. A 1992 Fayette Family Court case involving them was not available Friday in the Fayette circuit clerk's office.

Geetha Harward and Donald Southworth petitioned for domestic violence orders against each other on Oct. 9, 1994, in Fayette District Court. A DVO was issued against Southworth, while Southworth's case against Harward was dismissed, according to court documents.

Harward, then 29, said in her petition that she and Southworth lived together for two years and were engaged to be married. She said Southworth had slapped her in the face, thrown her against a wall, kicked her in the ribs, punched her in the stomach, slammed her on her back on the floor, dragged her by her hair and ripped the buttons off her shirt.

Southworth, who said Harward was his ex-fiancée, said Harward came to his house drunk, pushing her way through a door and arguing. Southworth said that Harward locked herself in his bedroom and that he could hear her destroying things, so he kicked in the door and asked her to leave many times.

Southworth said Harward started knocking things over, and was screaming and crying, so he physically threw her out. He said she came back inside, and he carried her to the door again and placed her outside. Southworth said Harward stole his address book and possibly some papers, and was "scratching, punching, biting" during the incident.

Umi Southworth, 44, was found beaten outside her Meadowthorpe Avenue home on June 9, 2010. She died the next day. Her death made international headlines because Lexington police did not realize for more than three hours after arriving at the scene that she was alive.

Donald Southworth is accused of beating her to death with a piece of wood.

Reach Jennifer Hewlett at (859) 231-3308 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3308.

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