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Lawyer for ex-Y. player says evidence withheld

SHARE Lawyer for ex-Y. player says evidence withheld

An attorney for one of the former Brigham Young University football players accused of rape says the prosecution is deliberately withholding evidence.

Rhome Zabriskie, who is representing Ibrahim Rashada, one of four players accused of gang raping a 17-year-old girl in August, filed a motion Wednesday asking a judge to order prosecutors to provide all their evidence in the case to the defense.

"We want everything and we want it now," Zabriskie said. "With how complicated this case is, we need a lot of time to prepare. We don't want to have to ask for a continuance. That would be unfair to my client."

Zabriskie said he has asked the state repeatedly, both formally and informally, for all discovery evidence. He says the state has yet to provide the following:

DNA and other forensic test results, including fingerprints of the accused and hair samples Zabriskie says were taken from the alleged victim.

Photos of bruises or other evidence of physical trauma to the alleged victim that may have been taken by law enforcement, a doctor or someone else.

Utah County Deputy Attorney Donna Kelly said the defense was provided all the discovery evidence on Dec. 15. On that day, according to a court order, Kelly's office provided 770 pages of transcripts and interviews as well as numerous audio and video recordings.

"I don't know what they're talking about," she said. "There's nothing that we have that we haven't given them. Every single piece of evidence we have, we have given them."

Zabriskie says the prosecution is either disorganized or is intentionally withholding evidence.

"I don't think they're giving us everything," he said.

Zabriskie acknowledge it is possible that some of the evidence he is asking for, such as photos of physical bruising or hair samples, may not exist.

"But if investigators are doing their job, they certainly would have taken photos of the evidence. It's one of those things that you naturally do, it's standard procedure," he said.

Zabriskie also has a problem with much of the evidence the state has provided. A video recording of a police interview with a key witness, for example, has no sound.

Kelly said the original tape also has no sound because of a malfunction. Defense attorneys were provided a transcript of the videotaped interview taken by a court reporter, however.

"If my life were on the line like my client's is, I wouldn't want to trust a transcript of an interview," Zabriskie said. "I would want to see the actual interview."

He also said property reports from search warrants are not legible.

"We can't read them at all," he said. "You can't even decipher it. It looks like something that was run through a copy machine 100 times."

He also said copies of photos taken by investigators are of such poor quality he can't tell what they represent.

"This is a complex case that has, and will, require counsel for (Rashada) to review enormous amounts of material," Zabriskie's motion reads. "To put the matter in perspective, defense counsel for the professional basketball player Kobe Bryant claimed to have received approximately 600 pages of discoverable information."

Greg Skordas, who is representing co-defendant Karland Bennett, said he believes the state has provided the defense all its evidence but agrees that some of the discovery has been poorly copied. He also said he has had to call the prosecutor for missing pages.

"You're always concerned there's discovery you haven't seen, but we don't believe they are withholding discovery," he said.

Skordas said the prosecutor has been accommodating so far to any requests for additional information.

"I don't know that this case is going to be won with a bunch of motions. I think it's going to be won in front of the jury," he said.

Rashada, Bennett, B.J. Mathis and William Turner Jr. are accused of raping a 17-year-old girl on Aug. 8. The four men each face two first degree felony counts of aggravated sexual assault.

E-mail: jhyde@desnews.com