Oct 062012

Trent Mackey (via Tulane official site)

Attorneys for the suspended Tulane linebacker accused of orchestrating a July home-invasion robbery on Broadway Street are arguing that a second, unrelated burglary charge against him is based on scant evidence and should be thrown out.

Attorneys Rick Kohnke and Rick Kelly requested a preliminary hearing Friday afternoon on the charge that Trent Mackey broke into another Broadway Street residence on Aug. 4 — after the original July 12 home invasion took place in the same block, but before he was charged in it Aug. 18 — stealing watches, an iPhone and cash. The resident awoke from an afternoon nap to see an intruder taking the items from his room, and after Mackey was arrested several weeks later in the July robbery, recognized Mackey’s photo in media accounts and identified him to investigators, police said at the time.

That identification, however, does not stand up to scrutiny, Mackey’s attorneys argued Friday. The victim admits to being groggy from his nap, and seeing the intruder from the side for only two or three seconds, they said. He told the defense attorneys that he was only asking detectives to investigate a connection with Mackey, and that when he was shown the photo of lineup, he only said that Mackey’s looked most like the burglar — not that he was the burglar, Kohnke said. Finally, the defense attorneys went to a store near the residence, obtained a surveillance photo from the same time of another man fitting the victim’s description of a “bald, heavyset black man,” and the victim admitted to the defense attorneys that he could not rule that individual out either, Kohnke said.

“We are saying Trent Mackey is innocent of these charges,” Kohnke said. The burglary arrest was simply intended to discredit Mackey in the eyes of the public after the robbery charge, Kohnke added.

With such questionable identification the sole basis for the burglary charge, it should never have been brought against Mackey and should now been thrown out, Kohnke said in magistrate court. Prosecutor Robert Moore disputed Kohnke’s account, however, saying that he had just spoken to the victim outside the courtroom prior to Friday’s hearing.

“The things they put on the record are nor what I heard from the victim in the hallway,” Moore said.

Kohnke sought to question the victim about the identification on the witness stand, but Moore protested that as well.

“We don’t usually put victims on the stand in probable cause hearings,” said Chris Bowman, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s office.

No decision was made Friday on whether the victim will testify, and the hearing was postponed until Tuesday afternoon.

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