Friday, November 7, 2008

Attorney alleges perjury in Marsalis rape case

Dismissal motion filed because of Sun Valley police testimony

Express Staff Writer

Jeffrey J. Marsalis

The attorney for convicted sex criminal Jeffrey J. Marsalis has alleged that the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office "knowingly submitted perjured testimony to the grand jury" that indicted his client in 2006 on a Sun Valley rape charge.

Hailey attorney Douglas Nelson claims that the alleged perjured testimony is grounds for dismissal of the case. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Dec. 1 in Blaine County 5th District Court.

Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas denied Nelson's allegation.

"I look forward to debunking this in court," he said.

Marsalis, 35, is currently incarcerated in Blaine County Jail awaiting a Jan. 5 trial on the rape charge. He was extradited to Idaho in August from the Forest State Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania, where he is serving a 21-year prison sentence following conviction in 2007 in Philadelphia of two counts of felony sexual assault and one misdemeanor count of unlawful restraint.

The Pennsylvania convictions followed a nationally publicized trial in which Marsalis was accused of date raping seven women.

In Blaine County, Marsalis is accused of drugging and raping a then 21-year-old coworker at his Sun Valley condominium on Oct. 9, 2005.

Nelson's motion for dismissal was filed on Friday, Oct. 31.

"The basis for this motion is that the State of Idaho, through the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney, knowingly submitted perjured testimony to the grand jury relating to results of scientific tests conducted by the Idaho State Police Forensic Services Laboratory," Nelson wrote in the motion.

"This perjured testimony by the lead detective from the Sun Valley Police Department caused the grand jury to believe that a date rape drug may have been found in the possession of the defendant, when in reality every chemical analysis conducted in this case has determined that no controlled substances were detected," Nelson stated. "It is probable that if the grand jury had not received perjured testimony on this point, no indictment would have been issued."

The lead detective in the case was Mike Crawford, now assistant police chief for the Sun Valley Police Department.

"I did not give perjured testimony to the grand jury," Crawford said Wednesday. He said he was unable to comment further because of a "gag order" that precludes authorities from publicly discussing the case.

Thomas prepared a written statement at the request of the Idaho Mountain Express.

"I do not believe the motion has merit and is an attempt to make something more out of the situation than actually exists," Thomas wrote. "The testimony that defense counsel is referring [to] has to do with an erroneous statement made by the officer during his testimony. Neither the prosecutor handling the case at the time or the officer picked on the error.

"This should certainly not be grounds to dismiss the indictment," Thomas stated. "Perjury is when someone makes a material statement under oath that he knows to be false. Clearly that did not happen in this case."

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