Tar Heel Fan

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Duke Lacrosse Case: Witness Intimidation

I am not sure what kind of game the Durham DA Mike Nifong is playing but it is most certainly a dirty one. According to the News and Observer, the alibi witness for one of the players, a taxi driver has been arrested and charged with shoplifting in connection with the theft of five purses from the Northgate Mall Hecht's by a woman in 2003. According to the driver, Moezeldin Elmostafa, Durham detectives picked him up and asked if he had anything to add to the case. He told them he did not and was then transported to the Durham County jail and booked for shoplifting. What was Elmostafa's role in the purse thefts in 2003? He was the taxi driver which took Lisa Faye Hawkins and her daughter to the mall and then waited outside for them while they shopped. He later took them home and was then contacted by Durham police in reference to the shoplifting by Hawkins. Elmostafa cooperated in every way even providing his driver's license and Hawkins was eventually found guilty. So Elmostafa, who simply drove a customer in his taxi to and from the mall is charged with a misdemeanor 2+ years later for the actions committed by someone else who happened to use his taxi for transportation and who has already been found guilty of the crime. Are we to assume that had Elmostafa chose to perjure himself and change his story the police would be more forgiving about his (non)crime? In fact we know they would because the friend of the alleged victim, Kim Roberts, who initially indicated no rape occurred, recently changed her story. Why? Roberts had been arrested on a probation violation by the Durham DA and following that arrest and a reduction in her bail she suddenly shifts her story in support of the DA's case. Of course the DA also got some good news in that apparently there is a 90% DNA match to a third alleged attacker. However, 90% may never make it to court plus there is an issue of where the evidence came from. Apparently some DNA was taken from a fake figernail found in the bathroom trash which along with the short of perfect match is also chock full of circumstantial possibilities as to how it ended up there. So let's see what we have so far: Police initally casting doubt on the victim's story which included an accusation against 20 men, not three. Only one DNA match and it is not perfect which means it may be excluded Intimidation of witnesses by the police which in one case resulted in a changed story. Photo evidence which seems to favor the defense Two identifications which came from a lineup that failed to follow state and local law enforcement procedures and may have trampled upon due process. Current Prediction: Reasonable Doubt

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