Thursday, June 14, 2007

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A lab director who tested DNA in the Duke lacrosse rape investigation testified yesterday that the district attorney never asked for a final report on his work but that he and Mike Nifong did not conspire to hide evidence from the defense.

“We did not withhold anything,” said Brian Meehan.

The North Carolina State Bar has charged Mr. Nifong, the Durham County district attorney, with violating rules of professional conduct by how he handled accusations that a stripper was raped at a party thrown by Duke University”s lacrosse team.

One of the charges cited by the bar said Mr. Nifong kept from the defense details of test results that found none of the players” DNA matched material found in and on the accuser.

Despite those results, Mr. Nifong won indictments against three players — all of whom were later cleared by state prosecutors, who called them “innocent” victims of a rogue prosecutor’s “tragic rush to accuse.”

If convicted by the disciplinary committee, Mr. Nifong could be stripped of his license to practice law in the state.

Mr. Meehan said Mr. Nifong hired his private lab, DNA Security Inc., to analyze evidence samples from the accuser for male DNA. He said that an initial report he provided to Mr. Nifong was never intended to be all-inclusive and that Mr. Nifong never asked for a final and more complete report on his lab”s findings.

“We don”t typically force-feed reports to clients,” Mr. Meehan said. “When he was ready for a final report, we thought he would let us know.”

In May, Mr. Nifong released that initial report to defense attorneys, who quickly trumped the news that Mr. Meehan”s lab had been unable to find a conclusive match between the accuser and any lacrosse players.

However, it wasn”t until much later that the defense received the background details of the test results, which indicated that genetic material from several males was found in the accuser”s underwear and body, but none from any member of the lacrosse team.

In December, Mr. Meehan said he didn”t include that information in the May report as part of an agreement with Mr. Nifong. Under cross-examination by Nifong attorney David Freedman, Mr. Meehan said only that he was concerned that releasing all that information would have violated the privacy of those tested.

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