WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A guest at the Kennedy estate on Easter weekend has testified that he heard no noises from the lawn below his bedroom window at the time a woman says she screamed and struggled as William Kennedy Smith raped her.
Stephen Barry capped a day of mostly dry expert testimony yesterday by recalling that he heard nothing to indicate a rape might have been taking place, even though his bedroom window was open.
"Was there anything that disturbed your sleep?" defense attorney Mark Schnapp asked Barry.
"No, there wasn't," Barry said. "Nothing."
Defense attorneys will almost certainly make much of the fact that none of the 13 people who were inside the Kennedy house at the same time heard the woman scream.
Barry said his brother had awakened him the night before by calling softly to him from the lawn below. And he said that, from his second floor bedroom at the Kennedy house, he could hear people conversing at moderate volume on the far side of the lawn.
Barry began his testimony by recalling, in a voice breaking with emotion, Sen. Robert Kennedy's assassination in 1968. Barry's father, William Barry, was the man who grabbed the gun from assassin Sirhan Sirhan.
State prosecutor Moira Lasch, sensitive to the potential impact of such emotional testimony on jurors, quickly objected. "This is totally irrelevant," she told Judge Mary Lupo, who sustained the objection.
Barry will continue testifying when Smith's defense team resumes its case today. Smith is charged with sexual battery -- the equivalent of rape in Florida -- and simple battery in the alleged attack on the Jupiter, Fla., woman about 4 a.m. March 30. Lupo said closing arguments could come as early as Friday.
Attorneys spent most of yesterday questioning expert witnesses called by the defense to bolster its claim that Smith and his accuser had consensual sex on the beach in front of the Kennedy estate.
The experts focused on two areas -- the grass and sand found inside the panties worn by Smith's accuser, and the condition of the clothes she wore during the alleged attack.
"No cuts, no tears, no abrasions, no grass stains, no soil stains," Henry Lee, chief medical examiner for the state of Connecticut, said in summarizing the condition of the woman's black dress.
Lee showed jurors two white handkerchiefs, one of which he had rubbed on the lawn next to the Kennedy house and one of which he had rubbed over a concrete area where the Jupiter woman says Smith first tripped her. The first handkerchief showed grass stains and the second showed abrasions.
Lee said if the woman's dress had rubbed against the lawn during the alleged rape with at least as much force as he used to rub the handkerchief, it should show grass or soil stains.
Prosecutor Ellen Roberts countered by noting that Smith's defense team, which is spending thousands of dollars on expert witnesses, didn't spend the $125 it would have cost to provide Lee with a dress from Ann Taylor identical to the one Smith's accuser had been wearing.
And Lee acknowledged that a number of variables -- for instance, whether the grass was wet the morning of the alleged rape -- could have affected whether the dress was stained.
Jay Siegel, a professor of forensic sciences at Michigan State University, testified later that the sand found inside the woman's panties was beach sand that didn't match soil samples he took from the lawn.
But in response to rapid-fire questioning by Lasch, he acknowledged that the sand could have stuck to Smith's body if Smith first went skinny-dipping in the ocean, as the woman claims, then ran across the beach to attack her on the lawn.
The sand then could have found its way inside the panties during the alleged rape, Siegel said.