Duke Hearing Postponed Until May as New Prosecutors Study Evidence

A critical hearing in the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case scheduled for Monday has been postponed until May as the new prosecutors continue to study evidence the case.

Prosecutors from the state attorney general's office met with defense attorneys for about two hours Tuesday. It was the first meeting between the parties since the state took over the case from embattled Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong earlier this month.

"Our attorneys met today with the judge and defense attorneys to discuss scheduling in these cases and all motions have been stayed until May," Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement. "We will use this time to continue reviewing the case files, talking to the many people involved in the cases, and making sure that all discovery requests have been responded to properly."

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Defense attorneys said afterward that a planned Feb. 5 hearing would be rescheduled. The accuser in the case was expected to appear at the hearing and defense attorneys planned to ask Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III to throw out her photo identifications of the defendants.

Legal experts have said without the accuser's photo identifications, prosecutors would probably have to dismiss the charges against players Dave Evans, Reade Seligmann, and Collin Finnerty.

In December, Nifong dropped charges of rape against the three athletes after the 28-year-old accuser changed a key detail of her account of the March 13 party where she was hired to perform as a stripper. The players still face charges of sexual offense and kidnapping and have consistently maintained their innocence.

Nifong asked state prosecutors to take over the case after the North Carolina State Bar charged him in December with ethics violations that could lead to his disbarment. Last week, the bar added a new set of charges.

Click here to read the amended complaint against Mike Nifong.