Re-posted by Nicholas Stix
Prosecutor Rejects Theory of Boys' Attack on Jogger
By Marc Santora
Published: January 31, 2003
New York Times
A prosecutor yesterday rejected the Police Department's theory of what occurred on the night of the 1989 attack on a Central Park jogger, saying there was no evidence to support the finding of a panel set up by the department that concluded it was ''most likely'' that five teenagers had a role in the assault.
Reaffirming an earlier recommendation that led to the overturning of the convictions of the five teenagers last month, the chief assistant Manhattan district attorney, James M. Kindler, told the City Council that there was evidence to support the claim of Matias Reyes, a convicted killer and serial rapist, that he acted alone.
''The theory that Reyes may have come along later -- it is a theory; there is no evidence to support it,'' Mr. Kindler said, deviating from his prepared opening remarks during testimony before the Council.
The City Council hearing yesterday was the latest effort to make sense of the competing versions of what took place that night in the park more than 13 years ago, when the young jogger was beaten, raped and left for dead. When she regained consciousness, she had no memory of what had happened.
Mr. Reyes's claim that he acted alone in the attack, a claim supported by DNA evidence, has led to a sweeping re-examination of the case and the overturning of the convictions of the five men for the assault.
This week, a panel of three lawyers named by Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly released a report that declared, ''Our examination of the facts leads us to suggest that there is an alternative theory of the attack upon the jogger, that both the defendants and Reyes assaulted her, perhaps successively.''
Preceding Mr. Kindler at the Council hearing, the members of the panel defended their findings.
Largely restating what they had written in their report, they said they had found no wrongdoing by the police. They called into question the reliability of Mr. Reyes's testimony, and contended that ''reasonable people'' could come to the conclusion that the five teenagers participated in some sort of assault on the jogger before Mr. Reyes completed the attack.
When it was suggested that Mr. Reyes may have come upon the jogger after the youths attacked her, Mr. Kindler said, ''There is no evidence he came along subsequently.''
Mr. Kindler also defended his office against assertions that it did not cooperate with the Police Department's investigation, including allegations that it actively blocked detectives from participating in interviews with critical witnesses.
Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr. referred to a complaint by detectives that prosecutors sneaked Mr. Reyes over to the crime scene on a day when investigators from both agencies were planning to interview him.
Mr. Kindler said that he was not there on the day prosecutors took Mr. Reyes to the park, but that he did not believe anything like that happened. He also said, however, that he thought Mr. Reyes and the detective who interviewed him had developed an adversarial relationship, and that in trying to elicit information from Mr. Reyes it would not have been wise to put the two in contact.
Mr. Kindler was careful to say that the investigation conducted by prosecutors in no way suggested any misconduct on the part of the police.
Photo: James M. Kindler, chief assistant district attorney in Manhattan, testified before the City Council yesterday. (Librado Romero/The New York Times)