Exculpatory DNA Results Withheld in Duke LaCrosse Players' Case

For months, the Duke lacrosse players alleged rape case has been a train wreck waiting to happen. I hope with this news, it finally derails for good.

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.

You can read the motion filed by the defense today here.

"This is strong evidence of innocence in a case in which the accuser denied engaging in any sexual activity in the days before the alleged assault, told police she last had consensual sexual intercourse a week before the assault, and claimed that her attackers did not use condoms and ejaculated," said the motion, which was signed by lawyers for all three defendants.

"There is not a single mention of this obviously exculpatory evidence in the final DNA Security report."

The defense is now asking for all results to be turned over.

Citing the state's open-file discovery law and the U.S. Supreme Court's requirement for prosecutors to hand over all helpful evidence to the defense, the defense lawyers asked the judge to order Nifong and the lab to provide copies of all laboratory analyses, including those performed after May 12.

It appears the laboratory did not provide the results to prosecutor Mike Nifong. But, why not?

On April 8, 9 and 10, DNA Security found DNA from multiple males on the panties and rectal swab from the rape kit; none matched the lacrosse players.

On April 10, Meehan met in his office with Nifong and the two lead investigators in the case, Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and Investigator Benjamin Himan.

On April 18 and 19, DNA Security ran tests on pubic hair from rape kit; multiple male DNA was found that did not match the players or any other sample taken by police, the motion said.

On April 20 or 21, Meehan again met with Nifong and the two investigators in his Burlington office. Meehan included none of these DNA results in his final report to Nifong on May 12.

The report violated DNA Security's own policies, which state that reports shall include "results of every DNA test," according to a copy of the policy filed with the motion.

The posters at the TalkLeft Duke Forums have much to say about the motion.

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    well.............................. (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 05:54:14 PM EST
    It appears the laboratory did not provide the results to prosecutor Mike Nifong. But, why not?

    the obvious answer is that it wouldn't have looked real good to a grand jury, when mr. nifong sought indictments. that's the obvious answer.

    perhaps, those tests were tainted, or somehow corrupted. as a result, they weren't considered legitimate.

    who the hell knows?

    it should be interesting to see the response.

    sounds to me like (none / 0) (#2)
    by scribe on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 05:58:23 PM EST
    someone had a back channel to the lab and made it clear they'd better not include the exculpatory information or, alternatively, the lab knew (maybe their contract was up for renewal) they'd be cutting their own business future with Nifong if they included the exculpatory info.

    Or, maybe they're just sloppy as hell.

    Hoping for a "Duke Lacrosse Team" effect (none / 0) (#3)
    by atlanta lawyer on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 08:33:28 PM EST
    I hope this gets tons of press.  I got lucky my last trial and was able to voir on the issues of presumption of innocence and the meaning of an indictment (judge wasn't paying attention as we slipped them into a jury questionaire) and I can tell you most people think an indictment and the grand jury process is a thorough, honest and open investigation, and many don't understand that a grand jury is just ordinary citizens like them, who rubber stamp whatever the prosecutor tells them.  In Atlanta, the grand jury meets at 8:30, and by 2:30 is finished for the day and  hears all the evidence and votes and indicts, on most days (they meet 2x's/week) , 100 cases, sometimes 120 or 130.  You can do the math, they spend a few minutes per case, and these are just felonies, many of them capital.  But most jurors walk in the door thinking, "there's an indictment, they must have done it." They don't understand that in GA, as in many states, 1) you don't have the right to be there and usually won't be allowed in, 2) it's quick, 3) the only testimony is usually the hearsay and conclusion coming from one police officer, 4) they don't have to tell them all the facts and can leave out evidence which makes you look innocence, even if, as in the Duke case, it's virtually conclusive evidence of your innocence.  And should the DA do just that, he's immune from civil liability.  Though frankly, you'd never know, b/c GJ proceedings in GA are all in secret, usually no recording, and not discoverable.  I hope the commentators and blog rip him a new one and as well, comment a great deal about the DA doesn't have to present exculpatory evidence to the GJ and therefore, you can indict a ham sandwich.  Hell, while I'm at it, I'm going to ask Santa to actually bring me some change in the law due to this fiasco.

    When can you sue a prosecutor in civil court? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Pneumatikon on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 08:57:48 PM EST
    Seriously. What the hell is wrong with this guy?

    a fair question (none / 0) (#5)
    by cpinva on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 12:10:17 AM EST
    Seriously. What the hell is wrong with this guy?

    he wanted to get re-elected, get black votes, and ran off at the mouth on tv.

    i stand by my original theory: he figures this doesn't go to trial for months. by that time, the media clamor has died down enough for this case to be quietly "disappeared": charges dropped, he's re-elected, and everyone goes their merry ways.

    the only other realistic option is that he is a complete, total moron

    only time will tell.