Friday, November 9, 2007

The Key Witness

The November 2007 Reader's Digest has a story about the intimidation of a key witness in the Duke Lacrosse Players fiasco.

Cabdriver Moezeldin Elmostafa, an immigrant from Sudan, Africa, in the process of getting citizenship, provided a crucial alibi for Reade Seligman. "Elmostafa swore out an affidavit and even produced a cell phone bill that listed a call from Reade Seligman's phone at 12:14 a.m. on the day of the alleged assault. The cabbie repeated his story to the detectives."

"Two weeks later, the same detectives showed up at the taxi office with a warrant for his arrest." He was charged on a misdemeanor larceny charge because he provided taxi service for a woman who pled guilty to shoplifting $250 worth of handbags. He did not know she had shoplifted. He had to post $750 bail, and spent a total of 5 hours in jail.

Elmostafa soon realized that the police were trying to scare him. But he would not be intimidated. He hired an attorney and faced the charges in August 2006, and was acquitted.

"Police claimed his arrest was not unusual, saying they routinely investigate witnesses who may be called to trial."

Police investigation and intimidation of witnesses certainly happened in the Kimble case. A key alibi witness for Ronnie Kimble gradually gave way to intimidation over time. Initially James Ogburn confirmed Ronnie's presence at Lyles Building Materials at 4:30 p.m. on the day of Patricia Kimble's murder. Over time, however, Ogburn changed his story, and eventually refused to testify for the defense. Ogburn had his own criminal past to be concerned with, as new charges hung over his head like a two-ton steel ball, ready to drop at the word of the Assistant DA Richard Panosh. Ogburn was never charged with those crimes. And Ronnie Kimble paid the price. Left without an alibi, he was convicted of a murder and arson he did not commit. He now serves a life sentence without possibility of parole.

No comments: