Friday, 31 March 2006

Duke under siege, day five and a half: the drivebys start soon

Apparently the local gang community has made what are believed to be credible threats of drive-by shootings targeting Duke students living off East Campus, according to the Chronicle and a Duke press release.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this is not a good sign.

Update: Another link for the insomniacs: TalkLeft also takes note of the timeline inconsistencies.

Duke under siege, day five: pondering the timeline

(I initially drafted this as a comment to a post at Brendan Nyhan’s blog, but it’s gotten pretty unwieldy so I’ll just post it here. Note that it is somewhat speculative, but I think it fits the established facts. “Woman 1” is the alleged victim of the rape, “Woman 2” is the other exotic dancer.)

My plausible timeline works something like this:

  • Party happens, although it’s not exactly established when. The neighbors could put a rough time on the “cotton shirt” comment, at the very least. This should be in the witness statement to police.
  • Women leave, lax players skedaddle afterwards. This has to take some time.
  • Woman 2 decides to make first 911 call from somewhere in Durham to get lax players in trouble with police, not knowing lax players are on Franklin Street (or who knows where) by now. Maybe Woman 1 has told Woman 2 she left stuff in 610 house, and figures if cops are competent they’ll look around and find it. (Knowing the exact address—even if the numbers were actually removed between the incident and today—does seem a bit odd for a mere passerby; I doubt you could read the address at night in the dark from the street even if the numbers were still there, as Buchanan is not a very well-lit street.)
  • Police show up immediately, are mystified that nobody is there, find evidence of a party earlier, interview neighbors, then leave.
  • Women venture out to Hillsborough Rd Kroger, in West Durham near 15-501, the opposite direction in town from where most African-Americans live, to do something (I can’t imagine they were there for groceries). Woman 2 goes inside Kroger, leaving Woman 1 in car parked in fire lane. Kroger security guy finds Woman 1 in car, calls 911. Woman 2 comes back to car, finds Kroger guard on phone, has to tell what happened.

This timeline doesn’t preclude the possibility of an assault, but it does put it quite a bit earlier than the first 911 call. Or it puts it somewhere other than the 610 house (Edens Quad?).

Unsolved mysteries: why leave everything in 610 house for 2 days—clearly one player was there when the warrant was served (he’s listed as the person receiving the inventory)? What did the police find in the room in Edens Quad and the Edens student’s car? (Related: What lax team members live in the specified room in Edens, if any?)

The victim claims she scratched one of the alleged rapists on the arm, so which (if any) of the 46 lax players had abraisons on their arms? I can’t believe the cops didn’t check this when they were all called in for the DNA testing—which, given the latest out of Nifong and DPD, may have just been a ruse to get everyone in so they could look for the scratches.

Why are two women who allegedly don’t know each other driving around Durham together for at least 20 minutes? Kroger on Hillsborough is 5–10 minutes from Buchanan and Markham at 1 am, and a straight shot west on Markham until it turns into Hillsborough. If you were looking for a drug store or grocery store, there are closer ones (Food Lion on Hillsborough near Erwin Mill Tower, Rite Aid and Walgreens further west nearer Kroger).

This whole thing is damned peculiar. Not that everything needs to add up for the rape allegations to be true, but if there’s no DNA and the women aren’t credible on the timeline, Righteous Townie DA Mike Nifong’s going to have some real trouble prosecuting this thing, particularly once Nifong narrows down the suspects and they get good high-priced lawyers who can start poking holes in this investigation and his jury pool tampering and borderline unethical conduct—for example, I’m pretty sure it’s against the rules for a prosecutor to assert that people who have been targeted by an investigation and hired lawyers must have something to hide.

Elsewhere, Timothy Burke ponders the “cotton shirt” comment, while Doug Wright thinks other important issues may be lost in the shuffle if the rape allegations turn out to be false (or at least unproveable). Out in the dead tree media universe, the Chronicle reports on the media circus; there’s also a good op-ed by Boston Cote in today’s paper. Last, but not least, UD offers the following suggestion:

The school needs to shut down most of its other operations for awhile and reopen as a rehab unit.

Lacrosse morons have moronic sycophants too

You know, if I were going to go out of my way to plaster the 610 house with signs showing my support for the lacrosse team, at the very least I think I’d switch on spellcheck in Word:

It’s not my photo, by the way; I found it in Flickr under a CC-license.

Elsewhere, the proprietor (I think) of a blog called “Happy Toilet” sent me this link to his/her post belittling the lacrosse teams’ high-powered ambulance chasers attorneys. Well, high-powered might be a bit of a stretch, but then again Righteous Townie DA Mike Nifong doesn’t exactly strike me as Durham’s answer to Eliot Spitzer either…

Update: Friday’s Herald-Sun reports that two Durham cops were at the scene of the alleged rape investigating a reported disturbance 16 minutes before the Kroger 911 call:

Police arrived at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. just two minutes after a woman called 911 to report she and her black friend had been verbally accosted by men outside the house yelling a racial slur early on March 14, according to computer dispatch records.

"Officers responded to the call at 610 N. Buchanan within a minute of the dispatch. The complainant was not on the scene and no one seemed to be at the house, according to the officers, so they cleared the scene after checking the area for several minutes," said police spokeswoman Kammie Michael.

The dispatch records show officers were on the scene for more than 11 minutes.

In the immortal words of Jagged Edge and Nelly, “Where The Party At?” The News-Observer version of the story indicates that police found evidence of a party earlier in the evening, but no sign of anyone at the house. Police believe the first 911 caller was not the victim, but neither story says whether or not it matches the voice of Dancer Number Two, and Durham 911 dispatch apparently has no record of any caller ID information.

The Herald-Sun account also indicates that Righteous Townie DA Mike Nifong is beginning to downplay the significance of the DNA testing, and may not even reveal the results of the testing to the public. When’s that Democratic primary again?

While I’m adding links anyway, here’s a post from dcat that makes a lot of good points, found via UD.