Wednesday, September 05, 2007

" of the strangest cases that I've been involved with"

From "Victims' recanting may cloud rape trial" at the Nashua Telegraph:
The credibility of witnesses promises to be an unusually complicated issue in the trial of a city man[,Severine Wamala,] charged with raping three women, which is scheduled to begin this morning in Hillsborough County Superior Court....

Lawyers began picking jurors late Tuesday morning ... and opening statements were scheduled for this morning....

In a more recent twist, prosecutors learned last month two of the three women have recanted their allegations and claim police intimidated them into making false statements against Wamala.

"This is one of the strangest cases that I've been involved with," First Assistant County Attorney Roger Chadwick remarked during a pretrial hearing Tuesday.

Prosecutors have suggested Wamala pressured the women to change their testimony, and they hope to cite recorded phone calls from the county jail and other evidence to support that claim....

According to Chadwick, the one victim who stands by her statement to police received an anonymous e-mail urging her not to testify against Wamala. Prosecutors believe – but can't prove – the message was sent by one of the other women on Wamala's behalf, Chadwick said.

Prosecutors aren't sure what the two women will say in testimony, but if their statements differ from what they told police, Chadwick said prosecutors will try to show the recantation is a lie. Prosecutors hope to cite a diary entry, allegedly written by one of the women, which Chadwick said matched her statement to police.

Prosecutors also said Wamala asked a relative, Fred Kosolo of Marlborough, Mass., to tell "the girls" to testify they remained clothed when they slept in his bed, and that he slept on the couch.

"We have clear evidence," that Wamala attempted to tamper with witnesses, Chadwick said.

Wamala's lawyers argue there is no evidence Kosolo passed such comments along to anyone, and it's not clear Wamala was referring to the women in the case at hand, because he never mentioned them by name.

"If it was such great evidence, why haven't they charged him with witness tampering?" one of Wamala's lawyers, public defender Anthony Sculimbrene asked. "They haven't because they can not prove it, and if they can't prove it, they can't use it."

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