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DNA Evidence in Duke Lacrosse Case Will Be Preserved

Posted November 14, 2007

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— A Superior Court judge has reversed his decision concerning DNA evidence in the now-discredited Duke lacrosse case.

In court documents filed last week, Judge Ronald Stephens stayed an Aug. 8 order for the City of Durham and the private laboratory that conducted tests in the case to destroy all information and reports gathered during the non-testimonial procedures early on in the investigation.

Stephens will not allow any of those items to be destroyed because of "new information" and "change in circumstance." He was in court Tuesday and was not available for comment.

Forty-six members of the 2006 Duke University men's lacrosse submitted DNA samples to police in March 2006, shortly after exotic dancer Crystal Mangum reported that three team members raped her at an off-campus party.

Several players wanted the evidence destroyed when Attorney General Roy Cooper dismissed the case in April.

Although it was unclear why Stephens stayed his original order, some observers said it could because of a federal lawsuit against the city, the Durham Police Department, former District Attorney Mike Nifong and the laboratory, DNA Security Inc.

David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann filed the complaint in October, alleging those named in the suit were part of a "DNA conspiracy" and should be punished "for outrageous conduct pursued out of actual malice" that violated the players' civil rights.