The highlights from the morning session:
Wade Smith’s testimony—with typical understatement—created enormous problems for Mike Nifong. Smith’s recapitulation of the Dec. 15 hearing? Nifong denied knowing about the additional DNA evidence in chambers; said nothing in court once the additional material was revealed; and then gave a press conference immediately afterwards affirming that he did know about the matter but kept the material out of the report for privacy concerns.
Smith also used his prestige to considerable effect, noting at least twice that he had never encountered a prosecutor who behaved in any way like Nifong in his more than 40 years’ experience as a member of the
The opening statement by Mike Nifong’s attorney, David Freedman, meandered between attempting to retry the lacrosse case and attempting to claim that even if Nifong were guilty as charged, he’s basically an ethical guy who shouldn’t be severely punished.
His most mindboggling line of defense: that Dr. Meehan made the statements he did in the Dec. 15 cross-examination from Brad Bannon because Nifong had not “prepped” Meehan. How, it could be wondered, would “prepping” Meehan have made the lab director more likely to tell the truth?
The runner-up in the mindboggling category: that Nifong had a routine practice as a prosecutor of turning over material to defense attorneys without reading it, and so might not have realized that the May 12 DNA Security report was incomplete.
Freedman also made several statements that appeared to “discover” items not in the case file. He said that police had interviewed people nearby the lacrosse house on the night of the 14th, and that these “witnesses” told the police that racial slurs were used. Yet the only such witness was the neighbor, Jason Bissey. Bissey’s recollected remark (the “cotton shirt” comment) was highly crude, though not a remark that normally is associated with a racial slur. Who are these mystery witnesses? Who knows?
Freedman also claimed that Mike Nifong felt comfortable asserting that a crime occurred because the three captains, in their March 16 statements, unintentionally corroborated Crystal Mangum’s claim that she was threatened with a broomstick.
Yet Mangum never made this claim to SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy, nor to any other law enforcement official, on March 14th. Nor did the reports of either Officer Himan or Sgt. Gottlieb indicate she made such a statement on March 16th. (Mangum did make this assertion well after the fact, on April 6th.) So how did the captains’ statements confirm a claim that Mangum already had made? Freedman didn’t say.
Other items: in Nifong’s row were wife Cy Gurney; a campaign volunteer, Suzanne; Nifong’s brother, sister, and son. Victoria Peterson didn’t arrive early enough to gain entry (and apparently raised quite a ruckus) but made it into the courtroom after the break.