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Archive for Friday, July 11, 2003

Hearing opens in kidnapping case

July 11, 2003

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The city's self-appointed police watchdog appeared Thursday in court to fight kidnapping and burglary charges that threaten to cut short his career as an anti-cop crusader.

Judge Michael Malone began hearing pretrial motions Thursday in the case of Dale E. McCormick, 32, who's known for videotaping traffic stops while cursing at police. He faces allegations that early on the morning of Feb. 16, he broke into the home of a Lawrence woman who claims he has been stalking her and held her against her will.

McCormick's attorneys have sought to suppress evidence police found afterward in his backpack-- including a wooden paddle, a gag, condoms, a leather whip and a rope -- and during a search of his home in the 900 block of East 13th Street.

Defense attorney Alice White alleged Thursday that when Lawrence Police Detective Warren Burket applied for a warrant to search McCormick's home later that day, he left out information about the relationship between McCormick and the alleged victim in an effort to bolster his case.

For example, Burket wrote that the woman once received a temporary stalking-protection order against McCormick but left out that the order was never finalized. The reason the final order didn't go through, Burket testified Thursday, was that the woman arrived late for court.

Also, Burket wrote that the woman had made prior trespassing and burglary complaints but he didn't write that, in each instance, the case was dismissed. The reason for the omission, Burket said, was that at the time he didn't have detailed information about those cases at his fingertips.

"Did you make any decision to omit or skew facts in your affidavit?" special Assistant Dist. Atty. Jacqueline Spradling asked Burket.

"No," he said.

McCormick, who at times has represented himself in court, considers criticizing the police to be his full-time job. However, the alleged kidnapping victim claims that for years, McCormick has devoted a comparable amount of energy to stalking her.




According to court records, she claims McCormick, whom she met in a chemistry class in 1997 at Washburn University, has stolen her belongings, harassed her by telephone and repeatedly referred to her as his lifetime partner.

Early Feb. 16, the woman told police, McCormick broke into her home in the 1300 block of New Hampshire wearing a ski mask and dark clothing.

She told police he grabbed her by the arms, refused to let her call police, pinned her on her bed and begged her to be in a relationship with him. He left about an hour and 20 minutes later, according to records.

"I have watched his bizarre behavior escalate to new heights of brazenness and audacity in his determination to convince (the woman) to be with him," the woman's mother wrote recently to Judge Malone. "Our family and friends have lived this nightmare for way too long yet are helpless to stop it."

McCormick, however, has alleged in the past that the woman is the one who's disturbed. According to court records, McCormick once told state social workers he was concerned she might kill herself and wanted to know how to have her involuntarily committed to a hospital.

When police were dispatched to look for McCormick Feb. 16 and found him in back of his home, officers testified he said, "She called you, didn't she?"

One thing police were trying to do when they searched McCormick's home, Burket testified, was to get to the bottom of the allegations between him and the woman. Police searched for journals, computer files, images-- anything that would establish that McCormick had been keeping records that would confirm he was stalking the woman.

The hearing continues this morning.

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