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Alibi Cabbie Arrested On 2 1/2 Year Old Warrant

Of course nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. But it seems that’s just how far Nifong is willing to go to try to convince the Duke alibi witness to change his tune.

From the News & Observer:

Lacrosse defense witness arrested

Cabbie questioned in 2003 incident

DURHAM – A Durham police detective investigating the Duke University lacrosse case arrested an alibi witness Wednesday on a 2 1/2-year-old misdemeanor warrant.

Taxi driver Moezeldin Elmostafa said Investigator R.D. Clayton and another officer asked whether he had anything new to tell them about the rape case before driving him to the Durham County jail. He said no and was held for five hours, until a friend posted his bail on a shoplifting charge.

Ernest Conner, a Greenville lawyer who represents defendant Reade Seligmann, said the cabbie’s arrest amounted to intimidation. "It appears to me they are trying to pressure a witness who supports our defendant’s rock-solid alibi," Conner said.

Sgt. Mark Gottlieb, the supervisor of the investigation, refused to answer questions Wednesday night.

Elmostafa signed a sworn statement in April saying he picked up Seligmann from a Duke lacrosse team party just after midnight March 14. Seligmann and another player, Collin Finnerty, have been charged with raping an escort service dancer during the party at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd.

Elmostafa’s affidavit said he picked up Seligmann at 12:19 a.m. that morning and drove him to an automated teller machine, a fast-food burger joint and back to his dorm. To corroborate the taxi driver’s statement, Seligmann’s lawyers filed copies in court of phone records, security photos from the ATM and electronic records showing when Seligmann entered his dorm.

The lawyers have said that Elmostafa’s account and the records exonerate Seligmann.

Clayton, who is working under Gottlieb on the case, picked up Elmostafa on Wednesday afternoon.

"The detective asked if I had anything new to say about the lacrosse case," Elmostafa said. "When I said no, they took me to the magistrate."

2003 charge

Elmostafa was charged with a misdemeanor larceny that occurred Sept. 2, 2003, when a woman stole five purses worth $250 from the Hecht’s department store at Northgate Mall.

Elmostafa said Wednesday that he had picked up Lisa Faye Hawkins and her daughter at their home and had taken them to the mall. Elmostafa said he waited in the taxi with the daughter while Hawkins shopped and then he drove the two home.

Elmostafa said he later received a call asking him to speak with Hecht’s security. The security officer at Hecht’s said Hawkins had stolen some purses before getting into the taxi, Elmostafa said.

Elmostafa said he gave the woman’s address and a copy of his driver’s license to the security guard, who thanked him for his help.

"I am not responsible for what she did inside the store," Elmostafa said. "I am just a taxi driver."

Hawkins pleaded guilty to the larceny three months later.

Elmostafa said he heard nothing about the case until his arrest Wednesday. He spent five hours at the Durham County jail before a friend put up $700 for the bail.

A Hecht’s spokesman could not be reached Wednesday evening.

Conner said it was highly unusual for police to arrest someone for a misdemeanor more than two years after the crime. He contrasted the treatment of the taxi driver with that of Kim Roberts, the other dancer at the party. Conner said Roberts initially told police no rape occurred at the party but changed her story after she was arrested on a probation violation. District Attorney Mike Nifong later reduced Roberts’ bail.

 

Moezeldin Elmostafa was held for five hours at the jail.

Nifong could give Torquemada vindictiveness lessons.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, May 11th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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