The state Attorney General's Office told WRAL that a 2:30 p.m. news conference to discuss the case is scheduled for the RBC Center, which can accommodate the crush of national media interested in the case. It is unclear whether Attorney General Roy Cooper will be at the news conference.Amid rumors that Attorney General Roy Cooper was hospitalized late yesterday, ABC News suggested this morning that the anticipated announcement may be delayed one day.
ABC News is also reporting definitively that all remaining charges against David Evans, Reade Seligmann, and Collin Finnerty will be dismissed as early as today.
The office of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper will announce that he is dismissing all charges against three Duke Lacrosse players, ABC News has learned from sources close to the case.
Cooper will announce his decision regarding the case at the North Carolina Attorney General's office in Raleigh, N.C., at 2:30 p.m.
"Cooper's decision follows a thorough review of the case by attorneys in his Special Prosecutions Division," according to a release from Cooper's office.
The three players, Reade Seligmann, David Evans and Collin Finnerty, were facing charges of first degree kidnapping and first degree forcible sexual offense. The charges stem from an off-campus team party held on the night of March 13, 2006.
In the hours after the party, one of the two black dancers hired to perform for the players claimed she had been violently raped in a bathroom by members of the lacrosse team. The three players, all of whom were white, were ultimately indicted for first degree rape, a charge that was dismissed on Dec. 22, 2006.
Special prosecutors from the Attorney General's office took over the case after Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong recused himself in January amid charges of unethical conduct filed against him by the North Carolina Bar. Since then, Jim Coman and Mary Winstead have examined the case from scratch, interviewing key witnesses and working through reams of evidence in an explosive case that combined sensitive issues of race and class.
The reasons that the Attorney General's office will cite for the dismissal are not yet known, but the charges of the accuser and case brought forward by Nifong have been riddled with criticism since the early months after the party.
"I think the critical thing could be the wording," Duke law professor Paul Haagen said. "It could simply say the state can no longer prove its case, which would be a very harmful outcome for the community." Or, Haagen said, the decision "could provide a full accounting of why the case should never have been brought." Baltimore SunLieStoppers has learned that defense attorneys will also hold a press conference today. Theirs is scheduled for 4:00pm at the Sheraton Capital Center in Raleigh. Representatives from LS will attend both news conferences. Look for updates throughout the day here and at the LS Forum.
News & Observer:
Attorney General Roy Cooper plans a news conference at 2:30 p.m. today to announce his decision in the Duke University lacrosse case.
ABC News and the Associated Press cited unnamed sources as saying Cooper would drop sexual assault and kidnapping charges against three former lacrosse players.
Cooper’s decision follows what his office called "a thorough review of the case" by attorneys in his Special Prosecutions Division. The Attorney General’s Office took over the case Jan. 13 at the request of Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong.
The news conference will take place in the press briefing room at the RBC Center at 1400 Edwards Mill Road.
"I don't want to hear from the AG that they are dropping the charges because they couldn't prove the case. I want to hear that they are dropping the charges because the accused are INNOCENT and that they are going to go after those who falsely accused them."
"We hope the diligence of the special prosecutor team has led them to the truth, and we are optimistic that the attorney general, whenever he does make an announcement, will be courageous in his description of the evidence."
"But for some at Duke, the possibility of dropped charges left as many questions as answers -- and a feeling that the full truth of what happened that night in the house on North Buchanan Blvd. may never be known, in part because the investigation was mishandled.Often it is said that one cannot un-ring a bell. Today, Roy Cooper has an opportunity to attempt to do just that by making clear the charges were based on a false accusation, a slipshod investigation, and a politically motivated persecution. Should he fail with that responsibility to justice, as the comment above demonstrates, the damages done to the victims of the Hoax will endure.
"Since we haven't gone through a normal legal process, we don't know what really happened," said Duke biology professor Sheryl Broverman. "The fact the charges were dropped doesn't mean nothing happened. It just means information wasn't collected appropriately enough to go forward."
"Broverman said she couldn't say one way or the other whether the players sexually assaulted the exotic dancer -- and that the investigation did little to clarify that. "For me, it just means we'll never know," she said."
More from WRAL:
For those in the local viewing area, WRAL and WTVD will carry the press conference live at 2:30PM.
"We assume (the state attorney general) is going to announce that the charges will be dismissed. And if that what he announces, we will be very happy, and we will be thankful," Wade Smtih, an attorney for charged player Collin Finnerty told WRAL. "But we will not celebrate, because this is a train wreck and an awful tragic year."
The state Attorney General's Office scheduled a 2:30 p.m. news conference to discuss the case. It was unclear whether Attorney General Roy Cooper will be at the news conference at the RBC Center, which can accommodate the crush of national media interested in the case.
The Associated Press, citing sources close to the investigation, reported Wednesday morning that all charges would be dropped in the case.
No notice of dismissal had been filed at the Durham County Courthouse by early Wednesday. But a spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office told WRAL that the investigation into the case has been completed.
The families of Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans arrived in Raleigh Tuesday. Officials told WRAL that the three lacrosse players would be present once a decision had been made as to how the prosecution would proceed with the case.
Finnerty's father, Kevin Finnerty, told WRAL Wednesday that he and his family are anxiously awaiting what they hope will be good news.
Nifong dropped the rape charges in December after the accuser changed a key detail in her story. He recused himself a few weeks later after the state bar charged him with violating several rules of professional conduct.
Among the ethics charges, Nifong is accused of withholding potentially exculpatory DNA evidence from the defense and lying to both the court and bar investigators. Nifong faces a June trial before the bar and could be disbarred if convicted.
Nifong faces a Friday afternoon hearing in the ethics case, and he spent Wednesday morning with his attorney in Winston-Salem.
Nifong's recusal put the players' fate in the hands of Cooper, who promised "a fresh and thorough review of the facts" when he took over the case in January.
Smith said the players, their families and the defense attorneys were pleased that the special prosecutors took over the case, saying they brought "sanity to the process."
"People were comforted once (the special prosecutors) came in," Smith told WRAL. "Once Jim Coman and Mary Winstead got involved, there was a feeling of calm that came over the landscape. And (the defendants and their families) felt comfortable -- they still were anxious -- but they were confident that it was being handled well."
“The special prosecutors have looked under every rock, and they have searched for evidence in places even the defense did not,” Smith added.
"I am very comfortable that the charges will be dismissed and these boys will be completely exonerated," Joseph Cheshire, an attorney for one of the indicted men, told The Associated Press...
Wednesday, defense sources told CNN the defense plans to pursue civil suits against Nifong no matter what decision is announced.
The same sources said that there were no plans to sue the accuser, who was described as "a troubled soul."