Warrant Details Search Of Lacrosse Player's Dorm Room
Posted April 20, 2006 9:23 a.m. EDT
DURHAM, N.C. — Court documents reveal what Durham police were looking for when they searched the dorm room of one of two Duke University lacrosse players charged with raping and beating an exotic dancer last month.
An affidavit for a warrant to search the dorm room of Collin Finnerty, 19, showed police were looking for clothing from suspect or the accuser, as well as property belonging to the alleged victim, who told police she was raped by three Duke lacrosse athletes. It also mentions looking for digital recordings, still photos and e-mail correspondence.
Released shortly after noon on Thursday, the search warrant shows officers only took a newspaper article and an envelope postmarked Sept. 14, 2005. Their search, the second at the Edens 2C Residence Hall in recent weeks, happened just hours after Finnerty and another player, Reade Seligmann, 20, were arrested and charged on Tuesday with first-degree forcible rape, first-degree sexual offense and first-degree kidnapping.
A Duke University spokesman said Wednesday that Durham police searched two rooms. Sources close to the case told WRAL on Wednesday that they believe the second room searched was Seligmann's.
Defense attorneys for the Duke lacrosse players have said their clients are innocent and that no sexual assault took place at the house at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., where the alleged attack occurred in the early-morning hours of March 14.
Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, however, has publicly stated he does believe some sort of sexual assault occurred, basing his belief on medical reports that said injuries on the alleged victim were consistent with rape. In a written statement earlier this week, he said he expected to make another arrest in the case. He has also said that aiding-and-abetting charges are also possible for other lacrosse players.
DNA samples taken from 46 members of the lacrosse team failed to match evidence taken from the accuser. Nifong sent the samples to a private laboratory for more sophisticated tests that the State Bureau of Investigation crime lab is not certified to perform.
Defense attorneys expect those results sometime this week and say they will bolster their claims of innocence.
"The application by the DA's office said the DNA would exonerate innocent people, and so I'm going to take the DNA's office at its word. The first set has seemed to do that, and I'm waiting for the second set," said Finnerty's defense attorney, Bill Cotter.
Cab Driver Appears To Reinforce Defense Timeline
They also point to other evidence that they say will prove neither Finnerty nor Seligmann were at the party at the time of the alleged assault. That evidence includes ATM receipts, cell phone records and a statement from taxi driver Moez Mostafa, who says he remembers picking up Seligmann and another man from the house.
A person close to the case told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday that the cell phone records show Seligmann called for a taxi at 12:14 a.m., and that according to sworn testimony, he left in the taxi at 12:19 a.m.
The bank records show he stopped at an ATM five minutes later, the person added, while information provided by Duke shows Seligmann's ID card was used to enter his dorm at 12:46 a.m.
Mostafa confirmed to other media outlets that he picked up Seligmann and another passenger at 12:19 a.m., took them to a bank and a drive-through hamburger stand, and then dropped them off at a Duke dormitory.
"They were just joking and laughing inside my car and everything just fine," Mostafa said in accented English in an interview broadcast Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America."
After dropping off Seligmann, Mostafa said, he returned to the house to pick up four more passengers. When he arrived, it looked like a party was breaking up, with people crowded on both sides of the street.
While waiting for the men whom he would later drive to a nearby gas station, the Sudan-born driver saw a woman walking through a crowd of men toward a car, and heard someone say, "She just a stripper. She's going to call the police."
Mostafa said the woman, wearing jeans and a sweater, appeared to exchange words with some people in the crowd before getting into the driver's side of a car.
"She looked, like, mad," he said. "In her face, the way she walked, the way she talked, she looked like mad."
When asked by a reporter with CBS News if he had a feeling that something had gone wrong or someone had been hurt at the party that night, Mostafa said, "Yeah, I got the feeling something had gone wrong."
Defense attorneys argue that if the dancers were performing around midnight, Seligmann would not have had enough time to have participated in the assault.
"I think the evidence is going to be very clear that he has an absolutely rock solid alibi," said Bill Thomas, an attorney for one of the uncharged players. "And I think you can expect similar evidence with respect to the other individual."