Thursday, August 24, 2006

Our Collective Voice

Submitted by: Momtothree

Was there an attempt to cover up and divert attention from the robbery?
That is, did Kim steal the AV's money and why did she make the 911 call?

There has been much speculation about what actually happened to the AV's money. No one seems to think she actually went home with it. Throughout her various statements to police and hospital personnel, she appears to be at least as concerned about the loss of her money as she was about having been raped. And she's talking about $2,000 not $400 not only the night of the non-event but also weeks later when she finally submits a written statement.

The N&O article of August 9 by Joseph Neff describes her telling Officer Barfield on the way from Durham Access to Duke Hospital that Nikki had taken all her belongings, including $2,000 in cash obtained by dancing at the party, her cell phone and her identification. Kim's March 22 statement to the police contains numerous references to the AV's money. Indeed, the AV's money is somewhat of a continuing theme. After the AV arrives, meets Kim and then goes inside to collect her payment, Kim says in her statement, that the AV showed me her payment ($400). So we know that both women were paid the full amount, and that Kim either saw the AV clutching $400 in her hands, or, more likely, saw her put $400 in her purse or had a peek into her open purse with $400 in it.

If the AV's purse contained other money from the AV's earlier activities, perhaps as much as $1,600, would Kim have become aware of it at this time? It's certainly possible. Given Kim's criminal history of having embezzled $25,000, few people have difficulty imagining that Kim stole money from the AV, whether it was the $2,000 claimed by the accuser or only the $400 payment she had received from the players. Indeed, the Johnsville News on April 25 posted a long article raising many of the suspicions mentioned here and suggesting that Kim was the likely person who robbed the AV.

The common assumption, however, is that Kim grabbed the money while they were riding around in the car before getting to the Kroger's. I happen to think that it is more likely that she took it at the Buchanan house, after the AV had fallen on the stairs and then been put into Kim's car. Most observers conclude that the AV is holding both a purse and a make up bag in the picture of the AV on the back steps time stamped at 12:30 am. A second later, at 12:31, she has fallen on the steps. The descriptions given of the photos don't say whether the purse and makeup bag are visible in subsequent pictures. One tends to assume she dropped them in her fall, but there is no way to tell without seeing the picture(s) that were taken of her after she fell, as she lay on the steps.

Kim makes a big point in her March 22 statement about her efforts to ensure that the AV came away from the party with the most important thing her money. After the boys have brought the AV from the back steps and put her in Kim's car, (the time stamped photo indicates that was at 12:41), Kim says: At this point, she did not have the bag that I saw her come with and I asked her if she had the most important thing, her money. She told me yes but she did not seem coherent. She then told me that we should go back to the house because there was more money to be made there. I asked her again where her things were and she said "Here," "It's here." But I did not see her things so in my opinion, she was talking crazy. Kim's contends in her statement that, once she realized that the AV did not have her things with her in the car, she decided to make an effort to retrieve the AV's valuables.
"I made an attempt to get her things. I took my belongings, locked her in my car and went back up to the house to try and retrieve her bag."
She makes special note that one of the players, Dan, went with her.
"I looked around with Dan and we didn't see anything so I said I've done all I could and went back to my car"
That she did make such a search is quite plausible, but everything in her description of the search has the ring of a self serving account. At first, Kim says in her statement (dated March 22 at 2:15 pm) that she only went up to the house, suggesting her search was confined to the outside of the house. However, she later adds an addendum, written an hour and forty-five minutes after the original statement, in which she says she actually went back inside into the house, including going back to the bathroom to search, still finding nothing.

One wonders what prompted this addendum. It seems to be intended to show that her search was more thorough and committed than her original words suggested. In any case, whether she searched in the house or only outside, Kim's own statement seems to describe an opportunity, at the back of the house, when she could have helped herself to the AV's purse and cash. Kim says, earlier in her statement, that she had a bag, and it sounds like the bag was more than a purse, possibly what she carried her "dancing gear" in. After the boys helped the AV into the car, it's quite possible that Kim, as she herself describes, took her own bag and went to the back of the house to look for the AV's purse. If the purse were laying there by the stairs where the AV dropped it, it wouldn't have taken much to scoop it up and conceal it in her own bag. If any of the boys saw this happen, they would have assumed that she was just looking out for her co-worker's things.

Fast forward to the March 16 search warrant and notice that the list of items to be seized includes a purse, a wallet, a make-up bag, a camera cell phone and a shoe. This list of missing items, one has to assume, came from the police interview of the AV earlier that afternoon (as described in the Neff article) before the warrant was issued. However, in the list of items actually seized, there is only the make-up bag, her cell phone and her ID, listed as a separate item.

The fact of the AV's ID being found with the makeup bag in the March 16 search is further evidence that the thievery occurred before the women left Buchanan Street . It's hard to imagine that the ID was there simply because it was in the makeup bag and got left behind with that bag. Common sense asks how likely is it that someone would carry her ID in a makeup bag, if she is also carrying a wallet and a purse. The logical conclusion is that someone took the AV's ID out of her wallet and put it with the makeup bag, to be later found by the lacrosse players. The purpose would be the obvious one of casting suspicion back toward the residents of the house, as well as also removing identifying information from the purse itself. The wallet and purse, now with no ID, then disappear never to be seen again.

At least as revealed so far, the March 16 search warrant is the last reference in the police documents to the purse and wallet as items that are missing in the context of the robbery. For instance, Officer Barfield's account quoted in the N&O article says that the AV claimed on the way to Duke Hospital that Nikki had stolen from her $2,000 in cash, her cell phone and her ID.
No mention is made (apparently) in the officer's notes of the purse or the wallet. Now it seems odd that a person suddenly aware that her purse has been stolen containing a wallet with $2,000 and a cell phone would describe the event as "someone has stolen her cash, her cell phone and her ID?" Would she mention her ID, but not her purse or her wallet? It seems likely that the list of stolen items in Barfield's report has been conformed to reflect the items recovered from the search of the 610 Buchanan house (the article does not indicate the date of Barfield's notes), rather than reflecting the outcry from the AV on the way to the hospital.

The fact that the ID was left at the scene, inadvertently or not, may have been the catalyst that set off the chain of events that led to the AV being taken to Durham Access. One has to ask, if the AV had had an ID on her person with an address, would there have been some possibility that the police would have looked up a phone number corresponding to that address, and perhaps been able to summon someone to take the AV home?

The next question to consider is what, if anything, Kim might have done (assuming she was the thief) to try to cover up the robbery and deflect attention from herself. One possibility to consider is the sudden commotion that surrounds the women's last few minutes at the house.
This part of the story has really not been questioned very much, except as to whether there were actual racial slurs that were used at this point, but there are some definite oddities here. First off, what caused the new commotion at the end? Bissey says that things had been calm for quite some time. It's been suggested that the confrontation at the end was an argument about money, with the assumption that the players were expressing their anger again at the women ripping them off. It's likely the players who remained there were still plenty angry, but what was to argue about at this point? This was at least forty five minutes after the women had stopped dancing. If the players' account is believed, they had experienced at least one of the women being quite intoxicated, both women locking themselves in the bathroom, one of the women (according to Kim's account) yelling uncontrollably while she was in the bathroom, the same woman eventually falling down the steps and passing out in the yard. In Kim's memorable remark,
"At this point, it seemed that the fellas may have been ready for the evening to be over."
According to Reade Seligmann's alibi evidence, he and Robert Wellington had already left. Jason Bissey indicates in his police statement that by 12:25 other players are starting to disperse and that the situation seemed to be calming down by about 12:30. From Bissey's police statement as quoted in Johnsville News Timeline:
"Eventually, the situation seemed to have subsided, with some of the men calling to each other 'guys, let's go' repeatedly in an effort to disperse the party, and the conversation between the women who were apparently in the car and the young man at the driver's window seeming to be calm."
If the AV is put in the car at 12:41, that leaves twelve minutes before the 911 call is logged in at 12:53 for Kim to leave the car, search around in the back of the house, come back to the front of the house, exchange heated words with the boys who are left, and then drive off with the AV. All we know about this time period is that Kim is seen by the cab driver sometime after 12:45 exchanging words with some of the players in front of the house. From the cab driver's interview with Time Magazine, as quoted in the Johnsville News timeline:
"He said he saw about 20 people on the lawn of the home, "yelling, talking back" to each other, including one African-American woman (Kim Roberts?) who he said didn't appear to be injured. Mostafa said the woman appeared to exchange words with some people in the crowd before getting into the driver's side of a car."
"She looked, like, mad," he said. "In her face, the way she walked, the way she talked, she looked like mad."
Now Kim's story is that the players suddenly started calling her and the AV the N-word. From her statement:
"I finally began leaving and the boys began yelling "N****" to us. I called the police to report the racial slurs."
Reading her statement, it's quite a jarring transition from "the boys" and "the fellas" helping to get the accuser into the car, going around with Kim to look for the accuser's belongings, and Kim doing her best to just get Precious out of their hair to hurling the most inflammatory of racial epithets. It does seem possible that the players might have had their anger suddenly boil over as the women were leaving and given them a royal send off.

This is the simple explanation, but there are quite a lot of problems with it. First off, Bissey doesn't say he heard anyone use the N-word. If someone was shouting it, if indeed several people were shouting it, it seems likely that Bissey would have heard it. Secondly, the cab driver, who comes back at the crucial moment, doesn't hear it either. He hears a player say that Kim is going to call the police and she is only stripper. He thinks Kim looks very mad. The expletive, "thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt," doesn't seem enough to get someone like Kim convulsed with anger.

Was Kim's show of anger at the end possibly an act? One wonders if Kim, on returning from her search out back, and either failing to find or claiming that she had failed to find the AV's belongings, took the opportunity to simply pick a fight with the remaining players by uttering her famous "limp d*** white boys" comment. If she took the AV's stuff when she went to the back of the house (or in the house) to look for it, she has just done her act of thievery when she comes to the front of the house for the last time. Is her brain now working on covering her tracks? Does she pick a fight with the guys so that she and the AV can speed away in some kind of distress? I think it's possible.

Then there is the 911 call itself, which has always seemed very staged and phony. Why did Kim make the 911 call? If she has left the house, and she has her money (and may even at this point have the AV's money), why bring the police into it? Especially with all the baggage that Kim has. On the 911 tape, Kim sounds quite calm, and not angry. Each time she mentions to the operator that she and "her black girlfriend" were called the N-word, she gives a series of little, muffled sobs which are so theatrical as to be laughable, especially next to her otherwise calm, confident voice. She makes a point to the operator that she is not hurt and is not being threatened. She just says she is angry and offended.

What she does repeat over and over is the address, and she must certainly be expecting that the police are going to head over there. So what is the benefit to Kim of the police going over there? I have trouble believing that the purpose is just to "get even" with the boys. In her interactions with them, Kim has been treating the guys as a bunch of greenhorn, wet-behind-the-ears kids. She gives every indication that she feels in control of the situation, she has way more verbal interaction with the guys than the AV, seems pretty comfortable with them, and for the most part, just seems to want to get out of there with her MONEY in the least amount of time possible.

I suspect it has something to do with the story that Kim is setting up and will later give out at the Kroger, that she picked the AV up on the street after rescuing her from a torrent of racial slurs being hurled by frat boys. She is distancing herself from the party and from the AV while, at the same time, setting up the boys as victimizers of the AV. Could it have anything to do with the money?

At some point the AV was going to realize her money is gone. In fact, the AV made the complaint about the robbery before she even got to Duke Hospital. Kim must have known that she would be an obvious suspect. It's certainly possible that she called the police to cast suspicion on the players. In the 911 call she casts herself as the Good Samaritan who just happens to be driving and/or walking by and stopped to help a woman who was being harassed by the guys at 610 Buchanan. Within such a context, if eventually there were an investigation, the police would be likely to draw the inference that the guys had robbed the AV. (The police, of course, ultimately obliged.)

One more striking issue with regard to the robbery is the change that occurs in the amount claimed to be taken from the $2,000 that Officer Barfield reports to the amount of $400 that is specified in the March 16 warrant as "currency" to be seized. Since the $400 amount appears in the March 16 warrant, this is a change in the description of the crime that is made very early on. There seem to be only two possibilities: either the AV, when interviewed on the afternoon of March 16, changed the amount herself to the lesser amount of $400, or the change was made by the police investigators in preparing the list of items to be seized for the search warrant. (As an interesting side note, despite the amount shown in the warrant, a Durham Police Department "media report" from March 28 still shows the amount of currency stolen in connection with the alleged crime at 610 Buchanan to be $2,000.)

For several reasons, it is difficult not to conclude that the change in the amount was made by law enforcement. Allowing the stolen cash amount to remain at $2,000 would have raised some troubling issues for the police investigators (who, no doubt, were already concluding that there were going to be plenty of troubling issues to deal with in the case). There would be, first of all, the issue of where the cash came from and what activities the AV was engaged in to earn it. Secondly, the larger amount would make the robbery a bigger element of the case, rather than the $400 amount which was more easily connected directly back to the players. Thirdly, even as early as March 16, the investigators may have been aware of Kim and her criminal record for embezzlement. A larger amount might have made it more difficult to keep any discussion of the robbery steered away from Kim and toward the players.

Moreover, if the police made this change, and it was made as early as the first search warrant (evening of March16), it shows how quickly the police started manipulating the case. Also, if specifying an amount of $400 rather than $2,000 in the search warrant was a change made by the police to bolster the case, did Nifong have anything to do with it? Or was the change simply made by Gottlieb and Himan for their own reasons? If the change was made by Nifong, that would mean that Nifong was already aware of the case by the evening of March 16 and already directing it in certain ways.

It may be that the act of going to a judge to get the search warrant by itself might have alerted Nifong that this investigation was going on. Otherwise, we have to conclude that Gottlieb and Himan found reasons of their own to try to enhance the credibility of the case.Of course, the robbery charge itself is gone by the time Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty are indicted on April 17. At some point, between March 16 and April 17, the decision must have been made that the robbery charge would raise too many questions.

With the wallet and purse still missing and Kim having provided, in her statement, a clear window of opportunity for her to have been the robbery's perpetrator, the DA and his police helpers must have decided that the robbery charge was far more likely to hurt than help the case. Yet, it is impossible to examine the available evidence about the Duke rape hoax, without seeing the robbery as very central to the entire chain of events.

The robbery may have been the catalyst for the altercation at the end of the evening and the 911 call. The fact that the AV was missing her ID may have been the final factor in the decision to take her to Durham Access. And the AV's anger, confusion and fear over the loss of her money may have been the critical catalyst in her lashing out in a series of stories of crimes directed at her. The press, of course, has raised none of these issues and asked none of these questions. However, were the case ever to go to trial, one imagines that the robbery, now gone poof, might suddenly have a place again in the story.


Anonymous said...

Momtothree, thank you so much for that outstanding analysis. There were so many "AHA" moments for me as I read it.

It also makes me wonder if the local reporters are incapable, or just unwilling, to offer articles of this caliber.

Anonymous said...

Kim knows what happened. This whole Hoax starts with her. She stole the AV's money and covered her tracks with the N-word 911 call.

Sad thing I believe Nifong & Gottlieb know this.

joan foster said...

Mom to Three, What a brilliant post! I am amazed by your insight! I wish 60 minutes would call you! Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Joan. Maybe Mom to three you can contact 60 minutes with a link to your post here and contact information.

A well thought out, insightful and logical post.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Nifong has something or he is the biggest ass who wants to try to ruin lives for political gain.

Its too bad the Duke family wont stand up for these kids. Where is Coach K or some other sports leader? They need to go out on a limb and speak for these guys unless they are victims of political correctness themselves.