Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 1, 2014

Meth suspect dead

TRAVERSE CITY — An Interlochen woman died days before a court hearing that could have sent her to jail to await trial on felony drug charges.

A state trooper found Shawn Marie Worm, 42, dead March 28 at a Riley Road residence in an apparent suicide, said state police Lt. David Street.

Worm pleaded not guilty before an April trial in 13th Circuit Court on accusations she maintained a methamphetamine lab in a home she shared with two children.

Prosecutors authorized charges in January against Worm and Joshua Lee Bennett, 28. They sought last week to revoke her bond after they said she violated its terms by maintaining "continuous contact" with Bennett. She'd been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

Worm's attorney Janet Mistele said she was "saddened" when she learned the news on Monday. She believes the accusations against Worm ultimately led to her death.

"No doubt in my mind," Mistele said.

Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney said he didn't know whether Worm's death had anything to do with the court case, but acknowledged the possibility.

"It's tragic, no doubt. I sympathize with her family, obviously," he said.

Court documents state authorities logged 55 phone calls from Bennett in Grand Traverse County’s jail to Worm, despite a “no contact” provision in the terms of Worm’s bond. Cooney said judges in such cases can give defendants warnings, send them to jail or impose other sanctions.

"It's hard to say what the judge might do," he said.

Mistele said Worm told a family member before her death that she "absolutely could not go back to jail." She described Worm as a mother who cared deeply for her children and as a client with a strong chance of fighting the charges.

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