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Defense says NYPD prosecution lacks evidence

Lawyers for three Brooklyn policemen accused of sodomizing a drug suspect with a baton and covering it up worked methodically to discredit the case against their clients Tuesday, setting the cops against the alleged victim.

Officer Richard Kern has pleaded not guilty to aggravated sexual abuse and assault. The drug suspect, Michael Mineo, claims he was chased into a subway station and sodomized with a police baton on Oct. 15, 2008, after he ran from cops because he had no ID, was smoking pot and didn't want to go to jail.

Two other officers on trial with Kern, Alex Cruz and Andrew Morales, are accused of hindering prosecution and official misconduct for a suspected cover-up.

Defense attorneys spoke for nearly five hours Tuesday, and Morales' attorney Richard Murray was to complete his closings Wednesday. Assistant District Attorney Charles Guria, who did not get the chance to address the jury, will also speak Wednesday.

Judge Alan Marrus initially planned to throw out a lesser assault count against Kern but is keeping it in because of a technicality in the law's language on the top charge.

John Patten, defending Kern, was the lead attorney, with the others joining in a chorus of condemnation of Mineo, and against the prosecution's case as a whole. They often repeated claims made by one another. If Kern is not convicted, the other two cannot be found guilty.

The attorneys focused on what the prosecutors did not introduce in the case, namely Mineo's jeans - because no blood was found on them - and Mineo's boxer shorts.

The defense introduced the boxers as evidence, and a fair amount of the case has rested on the underwear, because a square hole was punched out. Defense attorneys hinted that Mineo punched it out himself to make his allegations more credible and that, had a baton penetrated them, it would have left a flap or a rip.

Patten also said a lack of a DNA match was crucial to proving his client's innocence.

"If there was a match," he said, referring to tests done on Kern's baton, "There'd probably be a plea of guilty here." The attorneys maligned Mineo as a liar and a manipulator.

- AP

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