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Major Lacrosse News

In a major development in the lacrosse case, defense attorneys filed a motion saying that DNA from several males was found in the accuser's body, and her underwear, but none was from team members. If it's true that the prosecution withheld this evidence, it's a violation of the discovery law, and possibly other laws as well.

After reading through a bit about this, it's hard in a sense to understand what exactly happened: first, why did the lab (DNA Security) fail to include or remove any mention of other men's DNA from their report - an act in violation of the lab's own policies?

And another question worth asking is why Mike Nifong made two trips to Burlington, on April 10 and either April 20 or 21, to discuss things with Dr. Brian Meehan, head of the company.

The immediate news is that none of the various DNA found matches any of the lacrosse players. Since theoretically, at least, any DNA left from the party, where the alleged attackers did not use condoms according to the alleged victim's (AV) account, should certainly have been the most recent and the most predominant.

The secondary news is that this is yet another hole in the account (or accounts really) of the AV. She has said that her last sexual activity was a week before the alleged attack.

This leads us to the logical next question: how do you know how old a DNA sample is? Happily enough, forensic nurse Kathleen Eckelt was getting ready to write on the subject, and promises an explanation in the morning.

Aside from the little problem with her account of the evening in question, the AV will, depending on what the law in North Carolina allows, have to explain the inconsistency in her story if the case proceeds to trial.

Just as importantly, in some respects more so, it looks increasingly as if Mike Nifong will have to answer to someone, whether it's the civil rights office of the Justice Department or the N.C. Bar, or perhaps as a defendant himself, and here's how that could happen:

If he drove to Burlington (with Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and Investigator Benjamin Himan) and entered into a conspiracy with Meehan to withhold evidence, and that can be proved, then he's as subject to the weight of the law as anyone else.

Unfortunately, since he is the D.A. in Durham, that avenue is closed to the defense. But there are two others: 1) if a conspiracy was entered into in Alamance County, then D.A. Rob Johnson is in charge, and Nifong would have to play by his rules, and 2) withholding exculpatory evidence clearly and severely damages a defendant. There's no question there are grounds for a civil suit here, and while on the one hand it would be tempting just as a way to recoup money the families have lost in this bizarre prosecution, it would also be a way to lever information. The threat of being indicted, or even just sued, tends to focus the mind wonderfully.

The focus is on Nifong and Meehan, but Gottlieb and Himan are at risk as well.

This is perhaps an unlikely Christmas present for the accused, but given all the different ways this affects the case, they could hardly, short of dismissal, ask for more.