Lawyers argue what is admissible in Smith rape trial

October 30, 1991|By Cox News Service

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Prosecutors do not want a jury to see the dress worn by a Jupiter, Fla., woman the night she said William Kennedy Smith raped her. They also don't want jurors to learn that the woman is an unwed mother or to hear what she said during a lie detector examination.

Defense attorneys filed court papers yesterday fighting the state's efforts to block certain evidence at Mr. Smith's trial on sexual battery and battery charges. At the same time, the attorneys argued in a closed-door hearing about whether the woman's sexual past can be included in the trial.

Yesterday's six-hour hearing, which had been scheduled to last only two hours, will continue today. So jury selection, scheduled to begin today, will not begin until tomorrow.

Two of the woman's former boyfriends testified yesterday, one called as a defense witness and the other as a witness for the prosecution.

When the hearing resumes this morning, Mr. Smith's attorneys also will argue that potential jurors should not be photographed or their names and addresses published during jury selection.

"We feel people will be less likely to tell us difficult answers when on camera," attorney Roy Black said. "People do not discuss private matters on TV."

A gag order prevents Mr. Smith's attorneys from commenting on their defense strategy, but documents filed yesterday indicate that they will attack the woman's credibility on several points.

One point includes the findings of a defense expert who examined the Ann Taylor dress worn by the woman March 30.

Mr. Smith's expert "will testify that if [the woman] had been tackled to the ground and if she struggled in the manner in which she has testified, her garments would have shown signs of physical abuse," Mr. Smith's attorneys wrote. "The garments show no such signs."

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