A private laboratory hired by the prosecution in the Duke lacrosse case failed to report that it found DNA from multiple males in the accuser's body and underwear, according to a defense motion filed today. The lab, DNA Security of Burlington, found that the DNA did not match the three defendants, their lacrosse teammates or anyone else who submitted their DNA to police, including the accuser's boyfriend.
The new evidence emerged in thousands of documents handed over to the defense in October.
So here's the full report. Unlike the ACLU meeting and the media meetings at Duke, this time I took notes. I make no promises whatsoever as to the accuracy of this report.
I got there about 8:38. We were in the grand jury room on the 6th floor. Judges chambers on one side, Nifong's office on the other.
This was a small room. It was divided down the middle with seats to the left and right (facing the judge). Each side had three rows of 7 seats. In addition, there were two rows of seven seats up toward the front and along the left wall. I assume that's where the jurors would have been if this had been a grand jury. Total seats are 56. When I got there they were all filled and I was forced to stand along the left wall about three feet from the back wall. To be precise the frontt row beind the prosecution was empty and being reserved by an officer. I counted about 16 others standing at 8:42. When I got there, DE, RS and CF were already there and seated along with their lawyers on the right.
Media people I saw at this time were Anne Blythe and Joe Neff (N&O) who were standing to my left along with another guy from the N&O. Neff remarked that he's lived in Durham for the last 15 years. Julia Lewis (WRAL) had a seat in the front left. The AP guy (didn't get a name) was standing to my right directly in the corner. The AP report filed on the day (http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/D/DUKE_LACROSSE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2006-12-13-22-33-37)
was bylined Allen G. Breed so I'm going to say that's who that was. More about him later. I saw a CBS press ID. Don't know who it was. Some guy from the Herald Sun was scouting around. Today's article (http://www.heraldsun.com/durham/4-799604.cfm)
was by William West so let's call him by that name. Greta van Susteren was on the aisle in the second row, on the prosecution side, and stayed there the entire time. Susan Filan was there but was scouting around in and out. She started today by siting next to Durham activist Victoria Peterson in the front row. Ted Williams was sitting in the second row but on the far left but for one seat. Sitting to the left of Ted was Travis Mangum. Mangum was directly in front of me. Old and frail. Sitting to the right of Ted was a 20-something young black man. Ted did everything but pick up Travis' hand and begin stroking it. (As if we somehow had doubts about his objectivity.) A women I think was Beth Karas (http://www.courttv.com/anchors/beth_karas.html)
from CourtTV was sitting in the back row behind Williams. She was talking back and forth with him. To her left behind Mangum was Stuart Taylor (http://www.brook.edu/scholars/staylor.htm)
who one of the lax moms I talked to later ID'd for me. She says he's writing a book about this whole thing.
The whole right side behind the defendants was clearly family and friends. I saw Dave Evans parents sitting behind him. I saw Finnerty's dad. I'm sure all the parents were there, I just don't know them all by sight.
The "jury box" was filled with Duke lax players. Boy do these guys stand out in a crowd. They were accompanied by several women of the same age - female lax team members? - I don't know.
At about this time the AP guys sees me with a notebook and asks for whom I'm reporting. I say "private citizen". I almost said "Freeper" to see if he would get it. But I was trying to remain anonymous so people might talk to me. (Sorry Dukie07 - no blue wrist band today.) Too bad FreeRepublic can't get recognized as a media outlet and get us credentials. He then asks me to identify the defendants' lawyers for him 'cause he doesn't know who they are. (In your drive by report would you like fries with that?) I point out to him who they are to the best of my ability. Well, OK, it's not like AP's credible anyway. He laments that someone whose name I don't know will probably do all the speaking and mess up his report.
At 9:22 Filan nabbed Cheshire for a quick interview.
At 9:23 Nifong comes in with Himan.
At 9:25 I counted 20 standing.
Victoria Peterson goes up and has a quiet little confab with Nifong.
At 9:27 all lawyers for prosecution and defense exit to the right (later found out it was judge's chambers) for a confab.
At 9:34 Linwood Wilson shows up.
9:48 Wilson goes over and pays his respects to Mangum.
10:30 Here we go. All come back and Judge O. Smith presiding. By this time Blythe has nabbed one of the reserved seats in the front row behind the prosecutor and Neff has moved off to the far right back corner. Turns out K C Johnson is in the far right back seat. Victoria Peterson is sitting in the front row with Filan.
Noted that they were discussing in chambers the history of CGM and that records are sealed for a while (I didn't get this right - see some other source for this legal detail)
Judge mentions prohibition on recording etc.
Judge mentions this hearing will cover motions for discovery and scheduling
This is the last date in '06.
Bannon (DE) starts.
Talks about recent motion for DNA testing. Smith says he's read motion but not attachments.
Bannon gives summary of motion including request to examine Meehan under oath.
Nifong noted the request to deal with it today and said that Meehan was in the court and available to testify.
It was noted that the Sep 22 motion produced 1800 pages of discovery on Oct 27. 50 More pages were produced today.
Nifong agrees the DNA testing is important to the case and is willing to have Meehan examined but doesn't want "fishing expedition" into meaning of some items.
10:24 Meehan sworn in
Bannon examines Meehan
Focuses on meaning of "multiple male"
Meehan says that can mean multiple matches from same male.
Bannon goes through evidentiary items (e.g. swabs, etc.) one at a time.
Focus is on match to multiple males (almost always "yes"), multiple individual males (almost always "yes"), lacrosse team members (ALWAYS "no")
Halfway through Meehan's voice starts to go a bit and he needs water.
Bannon refers to May 12 DNA report as "final". Meehan draws distinction as "only" but not necessarily "final".
Now Meehan, for the first time, admits that the contents of the report were limited after discussions with Nifong.
Continues through item after item of evidence taken from CGM.
Meehan asked if he was aware this was a rape case and which rape case it was. "yes".
How? - "from news"
Now asked why matches to non-lax males (just reviewed in excruciating detail) was not included in report. Meehan mentions "privacy" for the first time.
Bannon moves on to 4/10 meeting with Nifong, Gottleib and Himan (NGH)
Meehan says they discussed initial findings and told NGH that they were "weak"
Doesn't remember Soucie conversation about dealing on price.
Says he might have negotiated a "volume discount" (my description)
Bannon moves on to 4/20-21 meeting with NGH
Meehan doesn't remember that specific meeting. Says he does "in progress reports" and all tests available at the time of a meeting were discussed.
Bannon asks about other names on DNA worksheet (Brent, E., Bobby, Owen,) provided with discovery. Meehan says not part of this case but work on other cases interspersed with this case.
Bannon asks about communication logs
Meehan says not at every meeting - none for meetings with NGH. No telephone logs.
Company does use email to communicate internally and externally.
Doesn't remember using that with NGH but, if done, would be spread around on various computers.
Long discussion on an "AVI database" with 3800 people in it. I don't quite get the point of this discussion.
11:17 Recess (I go out and play on the monkey bars. Or not)
Greta collars Cheshire
Lax team goes over to visit with RS, DE and CF.
Supportive hugs all around.
I go over and say hello to KC.
I ask if the Durham cops pulled him over on the way to the courthouse.
He says he drove very carefully.
He's got lots of people talking to him so I move off.
11:35 back in session
Bannon starts discussion of "match" vs. "no match"
Bannon asks if swabs were "probative evidence" (lawyers help me here)
Meehan says not probative if not matching suspects
Meehan says he and Nifong discussed ALL results
Meehan says he and Nifong were in agreement that exclusion of these "non probative" matches was proper
Meehan claims to have originated the idea and says Nifong agreed
Bannon asks how male DNA not matched to lax team would violate privacy.
Meehan hems and haws and has no good answer.
Bannon asks if Meehan has done rape cases before - "yes"
Bannon (getting a little steamed at this point) asks Meehan what is Meehan's understanding of exculpatory evidence - "negates guilt"
They talk in circles with no satisfactory conclusion.
Bannon moves on to lab protocols.
Meehan admits that not releasing all results violates protocols that were put in place to obtain license
Says Nifong did not TELL him to do it
Reviews a letter to Nifong
Bannon brings up "How could all the data violate privacy"
Nifong objects "asked and answered" - sustained
Bannon moves along
Bannon brings up sample with Meehan's DNA in it
Meehan says it was exceptionally low level, maybe one cell, and is rare but not unheard of
Bannon asks if the contamination of the sample calls the credibility of the report into question
Nifong objects as a violation of conditions under which Meehan is to testify. Question withdrawn.
Bannon says no more questions
Jim Cooney (RS) starts
Asks if a non match is 100% sure even if the DNA is not very good - "yes"
Asks if all tests 100% exclude RS - "yes"
Makes remark that the samples then contained more Bannon DNA than RS DNA
Notes that indictments were handed down before May 12 report of DNASI
Meehan claims he was unaware of indictments
Cooney asks why May 12 report did not say "no RS DNA in DNA testing"
Meehan has no real answer other than it wasn't done that way
Cooney asks did Nifong know that DNA testing completely excluded RS - "yes"
In response to a question, this is the point at which Meehan admitted that he intentionally limited report to only some of the test results and this was done with the agreement of "the state" (Nifong)
(See other reports for exact quotes)
This produced outburst of clapping and muted cheering from the lax supporters. Judge admonishes the courtroom.
Cooney points out that Meehan is sitting in front of a 5-6" ring binder (no kidding - it was a monster) and points out that RS&CF had to go through the entire ring binder to draw the conclusion that they hadn't matched anyone.
Meehan lamely reports that he would have reported it all if he had been asked as he eventually was by the court.
Wanted to know if meetings with Nifong where the content of the report was discussed were face to face or phone.
Meehan doesn't know.
Any records of communications - "no"
Confirms Nifong agreed to format of report.
Nifong gets his turn
Reads out CYA statement in May 12 report that says "other stuff is available"
Were you asked to conceal - "no"
Was he asked to find a specific person - "no"
Says he complied with Sept 22 order and defense now has everything
Done with DNA motion
Meehan "am I free to go"
Doesn't stick around
Defense asks about Wilson continuing to investigate and where are the reports on that
Moves on to scheduling the next hearing for Motion to suppress ID, change of venue (first I heard of that)
Nifong says he wants to move forward.
Lots of discussion about schedules.
Judge notes that he will be in Durham permanently as of 1 January.
They pick February 5
Cheshire puts in paternity motion for CGM pregnancy
Nifong says, contrary to reports, not yet born.
Due date February 1
Says motion not necessary because conception was too late.
Cheshire willing to drop motion but Nifong must stipulate non paternity of lax players.
Nifong says child not product of events on 13/14 March
Judge orders test if she is pregnant and delivers.
I hung around the courtroom.
Blythe tries to talk to Mangum. Peterson swoops down and spirits him away.
Several lax parents brush off the H-S guy.
Media waiting just outside door with cameras and mics.
I hang around a bit as they interview one current lax team member.
Lawyers and defendants still in courtroom and it's time for me to go.
I thought Nifong was buried a long time ago but like Frankenstein he keeps carrying on even though he's made of dead parts.
Excellent summary of events LB, you are an EXCELLENT reporter.
I am not a lawyer (though I play one on the internet) and I see liefong's position here, he is saying that an individuals sexual activity outside of the event, which is what the DNA shows, is not acceptable evidence in a trial about the specific event. That is what Meehan was trying to get to when he said "privacy". It is a fine point, but as such, a judge might consider such evidence of other sexual activity to be inadmissible.