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Archive for Thursday, June 9, 2005

Results of investigation might stay sealed

June 9, 2005

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There's a chance that results of the bar-brawl investigation involving Kansas University basketball player J.R. Giddens will not be made public.

"This case is not going to be handled any differently than any other case," said Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson.

When investigations don't produce arrests or charges, the reports aren't made public - and police say they haven't found evidence so clear-cut that they're ready to make an immediate arrest.

Giddens, 20, and five others were injured May 19 during a fight outside the Moon Bar, 821 S. Iowa.

KU athletic-department officials have declined comment on Giddens' status with the team, saying they intend to wait until after the results of the police investigation are known.

But KU coach Bill Self said he thought he had pieced together enough to have a clear idea of what happened that night. And that picture might be enough for him to take action.

Moon Bar fight

"If we never find out the results of the investigation - guilt or innocence by legal ways won't necessarily have a bearing on the situation within our program," he said. "My decision won't be based just on final results. It'll be weighted on more factors than that."

Conflicting reports

Procedures call for Lawrence Police to forward results of their investigation to Branson's office. If the findings are deemed inconclusive, Branson said he likely would not file charges.

"Without the likelihood for success in going before a jury, I would not want to waste the county's resources prosecuting cases that can't be successfully prosecuted," he said.

If no one is charged with a crime, the results would remained sealed.

"We would not release those records," Branson said, noting that KU athletic-department officials would not be entitled to documents that are not made public.

Even if charges are filed, a complete picture of what happened May 19 might emerge only slowly.

If someone is charged, the basic nature of the findings would not be revealed until the defendant's preliminary hearing, which may take up to three months to schedule.

Detailed findings would not be made public until the trial, assuming a judge rules there's sufficient evidence to warrant a trial.

Lawrence Police are expected to complete their investigation in one to three weeks.

It has not been easy. Several witnesses are known to have given conflicting accounts of the events leading up to the early morning melee. Giddens suffered a cut artery in his right calf.

Many of the witnesses have admitted being intoxicated that night.

At least three key witnesses, all of whom suffered injuries, have criminal records.

No arrests, yet

"At this point, I can say we don't anticipate making any probable-cause arrests - a probable-cause arrest is when the evidence is so clear-cut we effect an arrest without waiting for the District Attorney's approval," said police spokesman Sgt. Dan Ward.

"Let's just say a lot of circumstances are involved," he said.

Reportedly, several members of the KU basketball, football and track teams were at the Moon Bar the night of the fight.

Sources familiar with Giddens' account of the stabbing told the Journal-World he was "sucker punched" by a bar patron, Jeremiah Creswell, 19, while Giddens and KU teammate Jeff Hawkins "rough housed" inside the bar.

After a heated exchange, Creswell was thrown out of the bar.

After the bar closed, a fight between Creswell and several bar patrons broke out in the parking lot. Creswell was armed with a four-inch folding knife.

Some witnesses say Giddens took part in the fight. Others insist he did not.

Sources familiar with Giddens' version of events said he was cut on his right calf after turning his back on the fight. The gash resulted in 23 stitches.

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