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Lab director withheld DNA information

The director of a local lab said in court under oath Friday that he violated his company's protocol when he did not disclose all the results in DNA testing related to the Duke lacrosse case.

Dr. Brian Meehan, director of DNA Security in Burlington, N.C., told a packed courtroom he withheld the names of the people that DNA testing excluded from matching genetic material found in the body and underwear of the alleged victim after she claims she was raped March 13.

Meehan said he was "just trying to do the right thing" in protecting the privacy of all the players, even though he handed down his report May 12, more than three weeks after Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty had been indicted for rape. He also said the failure to report this favorable defense evidence came from an agreement between himself and Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong.

"What we heard today begs some very troublesome questions," said Joe Cheshire, one of the attorneys for David Evans, Trinity '06 and the third defendant in the case.

The DNA report, which was given to the defense as earlier discovery evidence, said there were several possible sources for the DNA found on the alleged victim.

Every Duke lacrosse player tested by the prosecution, however, was excluded from any possible match to any of the genetic material found, Meehan said as part of his nearly two hours of testimony. This distinction is important, defense lawyers argued, because it is exculpatory evidence, illustrating their clients' innocence.

Defense lawyers also filed several motions that will be discussed at a future time. Because of the recent revelation that the alleged victim is pregnant, the defense asked for a paternity test to be done on the child to rule out any possibility that one of the defendants is the father. Nifong said the baby is due in early February, so it is unlikely that any of the players is the father, but he refused to rule it out with all certainty.

At the next hearing, lawyers will discuss a motion to suppress the alleged victim's photo identification of the three defendants because it violated North Carolina legal procedure, defense attorneys said. If this motion is granted, lawyers said they may move to have the charges dismissed.

"If he grants a suppression. there's no case," said Jim Cooney, one of Seligmann's attorneys.

Today's revelations came in a courtroom that was decisively in favor of the defense.

Several of the defendants' former teammates were in attendance at the hearing. Former head coach Mike Pressler, who resigned in the aftermath of the incident, was also present.

Pressler sat with the parents of several lacrosse players. Rae Evans, David's mother, sat behind her son, clutching a wooden angel made for her by Pressler's young daughter, Maggie.

"It's been hard, it's a nightmare, it's horrific," said Kevin Finnerty, Collin's father, after the hearing.

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