MOBILE, Alabama – Prosecutors asked a judge to throw out a public lewdness charge against an 81-year-old woman accused of urinating in a public park when she couldn't make it to a bathroom, the city attorney said Thursday.
Municipal prosecutors in Mobile filed a motion Wednesday to dismiss the charge against Lula Mae Battle, who suffers from incontinence. Her arrest sparked calls from upset city residents.
"As far as we're concerned this is over," said city attorney Larry Wettermark. "A prosecutor is supposed to do justice. Once we learned of the circumstances we decided this was certainly a case that should not be prosecuted."
"Thank you, Jesus. Glory, Hallelujah!" Battle told the Press-Register newspaper after learning of the city's motion.
Municipal Court administrator Pete Peterson said the judge would likely rule on the city's motion to throw out the charge on Sept. 15, the day Battle is scheduled for trial. But Wettermark said the case is done.
Battle has said she was at her bank in downtown Mobile on June 3 when a teller refused to let her use the bathroom. Battle tried to make it to a public restroom across the park but couldn't get there in time.
The woman lost control of her bladder as she walked, so she ducked into bushes next to a small building. But the building was a one-room police substation manned by a cadet, who called for an officer and had her arrested.
The woman was taken to jail, booked on a charge of public lewdness and released on $500 bail. The charge carries a maximum penalty of three months in jail and a $500 fine.
In anticipation of a trial, Battle said she had been saving money. She wasn't able to pay her phone bill, so the service was cut off.
"I was trying to save," she told the newspaper.
City Hall received calls from people complaining about Battle's arrest after news of the case became public, Wettermark said, but downtown businesses have complained for years about men relieving themselves in the park.
Wettermark has said the police officer was correct in arresting Battle, but then prosecutors can decide whether the case is worth pursuing.