News| Duke Rape Case | Player Wants a Fast Trial

Published February 11, 2008

Posted May 19, 2006 – One of three Duke University lacrosse players accused of gang-raping and beating a Black exotic dancer wants the case settled before next school year.

"We want a trial as fast as we can," Reade Seligmann's attorney, Kirk Osborn, said at a hearing Thursday for the Duke sophomore. "This young kid wants to go to school in the fall." He argued that Seligmann has established "what we think is a pretty clear alibi."

But the judge in the case said not so fast, telling the defense it can forget about a speedy trial.

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The case "is not going to jump ahead of the line and be handled any differently," Superior Court Judge Ronald L. Stephens said.

But, in an apparent minor victory for the defense, Stephens said he would allow attorneys access to a cell phone that was found at the off-campus house where the alleged sexual assault took place.

The phone is believed to belong to the accuser or 31-year-old Kim Roberts, an exotic dancer who worked the party with her. It was found by other lacrosse players the day after the accuser reported the incident. They turned the phone in to police after finding it on the lawn.

"That will enable us to see who she was talking to that day," Osborn told the judge Thursday, adding that an expert needed to examine the phone to see what information could be collected from it.

"Hopefully, the phone won't be tampered with," he said.

Osborn added that the day after the alleged crime, the woman’s cell service was cut off. 

Nifong said prosecutors are not interested in the contents of the phone, such as the last 10 numbers called, but Osborn said that's information the defense should be allowed to see.

And the judge gave him the green light to proceed.

Seligmann, 20, of Essex Falls, N.J., and 19-year-old Collin Finnerty of Garden City, N.Y., have been suspended from Duke until the charges against the two sophomores are dropped.

David Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md.,  who graduated a day before turning himself in, maintains his innocence. He told reporters Tuesday that the “allegations are lies” and that he will be acquitted of all charges.

Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong said he wants to try the three players together.  They are charged with kidnapping and raping the North Carolina Central University student at a March 13 team party where she was hired to strip.

After Thursday’s brief hearing, Nifong said he does not expect any trial to begin before next year.

Meanwhile, an analysis of the latest DNA test in the case shows that the accuser’s boyfriend is the most likely source of sperm found in her body, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reported.

However, Brian Meehan, director of DNA Security Inc., said it’s impossible to pinpoint when she had sex.

 "In general, if we test a vaginal swab, there's no way to determine how old the semen is on that swab," Meehan said.

Marcia Eisenberg, technical director for Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings, a forensic identity lab, told The News & Observer that live sperm can live inside the body for 48 to 72 hours after sex. Even after the sperm cells die, it is possible to extract DNA from fluid left in the body.

Do you think there is enough evidence to clear Seligmann and proceed with a speedy trial?  Click "Discuss Now" to post your comment.

Written by BET-Staff

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