NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Police on Wednesday were examining three phones recovered from teenagers accused of raping an 18-year-old woman in a Brooklyn playground after defense lawyers claimed that at least one of the youths shot video of the alleged victim smiling and laughing during the encounter.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the short video clip, reportedly showing the woman partially undressed, would help or hurt the case against five teenagers who have been charged with assaulting the woman after finding her drunk in the park, in the company of her father.
The last of the five teens to be arrested was scheduled for an arraignment on Wednesday.
A police spokesman, Deputy Chief Edward Mullen, said Wednesday that police had obtained search warrants for the cellphones seized following the arrests. He said the phones were being examined, but he had no information about their content.
Investigators have said that two of the arrested teenagers have claimed that when they entered the park, around 9 p.m. on Jan. 7, they found the woman having some type of sexual contact with an older man, later identified as her father.
Police said the father was driven off by the teens, then returned and was ordered out of the park a second time by a teen who pulled a gun. He later flagged down a police car for help. The woman told police that before officers arrived, she was raped by the group of teens.
Lawyers for the teens said the cellphone video clip showed the woman smiling, with her clothes partially removed, but it remained unclear when during the encounter that video was taken or what happened after the camera was turned off.
“But on the videotape, at least what I have been able to observe, is a young woman who was smiling or grinning,” Kenneth Montgomery, an attorney for one of the teens, told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.
“I think the video casts more doubt on what exactly happened in this case,” one of the lawyers, Abdula Greene, said Wednesday.
The defense also has seized on the fact that a handgun has not been recovered.
Four of the defendants — Onandi Brown, 17, Denzel Murray, 14, and Shaquell Cooper and Ethan Phillip, both 15 — appeared in court on Tuesday to face rape, criminal sex act, sexual abuse and other charges. Attorneys for each of them said they denied the allegations.
The fifth suspect, Travis Beckford, 17, was arrested on Tuesday. Information on his attorney was not immediately available.
In court papers, authorities said Murray and Phillip claimed that co-defendant Cooper had intercourse with the woman and that Brown and Beckford had the woman perform oral sex. Murray and Philip were the first to turn themselves in. The teens claimed all of the sex acts were consensual.
Police also were awaiting the results of DNA tests. Those won’t be available for about a week.
Police have not sought DNA from the father and say he’s so far not facing any charges.
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