Attorneys for Darren Sharper this week accused Los Angeles County prosecutors of withholding evidence that could be favorable to the former Saints safety — accused of rape in four states — including claims that a witness in the New Orleans case is under investigation in an unrelated drugging incident.
Authorities in Florida, meanwhile, confirmed they recently decided they would not file charges against Sharper, who had been accused in a drugging and rape in Miami Beach.
In a motion filed Wednesday at Los Angeles Superior Court, attorney Blair Berk cited five instances of evidence favorable to Sharper that prosecutors reportedly withheld:
- The identities of two men whose DNA was found on separate alleged victims in two reported rapes in Los Angeles.
- Information that Miami Beach police closed their investigation.
- Information that indicates a Tempe, Arizona, officer lied under oath about evidence collected in an investigation there.
- Information that a new witness in Las Vegas claims to have had sex with the alleged victim there within 24 hours of the reported rape involving Sharper and has texts suggesting the alleged victim did not have sex with Sharper.
- Information that a witness to the alleged Warehouse District rape in New Orleans is under investigation for drugging a woman at a bar in an unrelated incident not involving Sharper.
Sharper has been charged in California and Nevada and remains under investigation in Las Vegas and New Orleans. In each instance, he is accused of plying women with drinks, allegedly laced with Ambien, and sexually assaulting them after they fell unconscious.
“The fact that the defense had uncovered, through its own investigation, evidence that the prosecution is purposefully suppressing exculpatory evidence raises serious questions about the legitimacy of the criminal prosecution against Mr. Sharper, as well as raising the question of how much other exculpatory evidence and/or evidence of innocence is being suppressed in this case,” Berk wrote in a motion that seeks to obtain the exculpatory evidence.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on his claims Thursday.
Sharper is due in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday for a preliminary hearing at which his attorneys are expected to ask a judge to produce the evidence they seek.
According to Berk’s motion, prosecutors did not tell the defense until March 24 that the two alleged victims in California were found to have had DNA from other men on them at the time they claim Sharper raped them in separate incidents in February and October.
Prosecutors have failed to identify either man, Berk wrote, or hand over related evidence, including copies of interviews defense attorneys believe Los Angeles police conducted with the men.
Berk said prosecutors have been trying to prove Sharper’s guilt in Los Angeles by using evidence from the other cities where he is alleged to have raped women.
On Feb. 20, an assistant district attorney in Los Angeles said during a bail hearing that prosecutors had learned that day that Miami Beach police were investigating Sharper for an alleged sexual assault there in late 2012. According to the motion, Miami Beach authorities actually had informed the LAPD about their investigation three weeks earlier.
The LAPD gave information to prosecutors that Miami Beach police said the alleged incident there was reported after news broke of Sharper’s Feb. 14 arrest in Los Angeles.
The Miami Beach case was closed April 23, according to detective Vivian Thayer, a Miami Beach Police Department spokeswoman.
The reasons the assistant state attorney chose not to proceed with the case, Thayer said, included a lack of physical evidence, the delay in filing the complaint, the alleged victim’s inconsistent statements to police and a lack of corroborating witnesses.
Additionally, Berk wrote, a Miami Beach police report released to the media was “not by any measure the full and complete police report.”
The complete document showed the complainant was brought to a police station by a man who tried to “support” her by “repeatedly interrupting her” and “trying to speak himself,” according to the motion.
In the Arizona case, Berk wrote, an officer there committed perjury during a bail hearing.
On April 16, Kevin Mace testified that Sharper’s semen was found on leggings that belonged to one of the complainants “by testifying as if reading from a forensic report that supported that purported finding,” according to Berk’s motion. He was “forced” to admit the next day that he was “incorrect” when he so testified, Berk wrote.
Mace also said he spoke to LAPD detectives and saw medical records that showed Sharper has had a vasectomy. The LAPD does not have any evidence or medical records showing that, Berk wrote.
The Las Vegas Metro Police Department conducted “extensive” interviews with witnesses during its investigation, but Los Angeles prosecutors suppressed statements from a new witness who said he had “very rough sex” with one of the alleged victims in that case within 24 hours of the alleged Jan. 15 rape, Berk wrote.
“By the witness’s own admission, this rough sex apparently left visible injuries on the complaining witness,” the motion says.
It says the same witness also told Las Vegas police that one of the alleged victims sent him a text message a day after the reported incident with Sharper but never mentioned or suggested that she or her friend was the victim of a sexual assault.
In the New Orleans case, a witness who was with Sharper during the alleged Sept. 23 rape in the Warehouse District is under investigation by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for drugging a woman at a bar in a prior incident not involving Sharper, Berk wrote.
Local and federal prosecutors have a video recording showing that witness place something in a woman’s drink in a bar in New Orleans, but that evidence has not been given to the defense, Berk said.
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