Oct 092012

Trent Mackey (via Tulane official site)

Prosecutors are still evaluating evidence to determine whether a suspended Tulane linebacker will be prosecuted on an allegation that he broke into a Broadway Street home and swiped a handful of valuables just weeks after his involvement in a high-profile home-invasion robbery in the same block, authorities said after the conclusion of a preliminary hearing in court Tuesday.

Trent Mackey appeared in court Tuesday for the conclusion of proceedings begun last week, when his attorneys argued that there is insufficient evidence to charge him in an August burglary in the 600 block of Broadway. In that case, police said the victim awoke from a nap to find a man stealing watches, an iPhone and cash from his room, and later recognized Mackey’s photo when he was arrested on accusation of orchestrating a July home-invasion robbery in the same block.

Defense attorney Rick Kohnke argued Thursday and again on Tuesday that the victim later told him that he was never sure about that identification, so Kohnke wanted to call him to the witness stand during the preliminary hearing for the judge to determine whether the charge should proceed. Assistant District Attorney Robert Moore disagreed Tuesday, however, saying Kohnke was misrepresenting the victim’s statements, but that Kohnke doesn’t have the right to put a witness on the stand at this early stage in the proceedings.

Prosecutors characterized Kohnke’s request to put the victim on the stand as a “fishing expedition,” while Kohnke said an examination of the victim would prove the burglary charge to be unfounded now, rather than making Mackey wait.

“This is the most bizarre situation I’ve ever encountered in my career,” Kohnke protested in court. “It’s almost as if the district attorney’s office is not interested in the truth.”

With no witnesses called and thus no evidence to evaluate, the judge ruled that there was “no probable charge” to hold Mackey on bond on the charge. The ruling has no effect on the charge itself, however; the district attorney’s office can still proceed with the prosecution, and Kohnke said afterward that he is ready to go to trial immediately if the charge moves forward.

Mackey is already out on bond on both cases, and appeared in court alongside Kohnke for both hearings but did not speak.

The burglary case is still open, and prosecutors are still screening the charge, evaluating it based on other evidence that hasn’t been made public, said Christopher Bowman, the spokesman for the district attorney’s office. He declined to give any specifics, but said that the process thus far has not been unusual.

“Screening almost always involves further investigation,” Bowman said.

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