|Puckett on Trial|
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Minneapolis, Minn. — Kirby Puckett, the same Minnesota Twin who local fans loved so much that they named a street after him, wore a blank expression as he walked into court. Gone was the infectious smile.
Puckett took a seat at the defendant's table between his two attorneys. On his left, Chris Madel; on his right former U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones.
Puckett's version, laid out in attorney Todd Jones' opening statement, is that Puckett was only trying to escort the woman into the men's bathroom because the women's bathroom was full. The woman changed her mind and left after seeing that there were other men in the bathroom, Jones said.
"There are only two people who really know what happened in that space, and you're going to hear from both of them," Jones said. He urged jurors to remember that the state has to prove its case.
"Kirby Puckett doesn't have to prove his innocence," Jones said.
The first witness to take the stand following opening statements was the alleged victim. A 5'2" average-built woman with frosted brown hair -- described as K.L. in court documents. A Bloomington loan officer and former flight attendant, she told the court she and a girlfriend went to the bar and restaurant to meet with other flight attendants whom she hadn't seen in years.
She choked up three times during her testimony, first when the prosecutor asked her to point out whether the man who attacked her was in the courtroom. She pointed to Puckett. She described a man who Puckett fans would never recognize and a celebrity she says she hadn't recognized during the alleged assault.
She said she just saw him as a big, black man with a blue shirt.
She painted a picture of Puckett dragging her into a men's bathroom while she tried to hook her ankle around the door frame to resist. She said it was like a tug of war; one friend was holding her right hand and Puckett was grabbing the other and succeeded taking her into the bathroom.
K.L. testified that Puckett pushed her into three different stalls to find one that was unoccupied. She said he pushed her "like a hockey player pushes another player into the boards." She said once inside a stall, Puckett grabbed her breast and at that moment, the friend outside peeked in and shouted her name, and as that friend later testified, Puckett froze and let K.L. slip by.
That friend said the incident took 20 seconds.
K.L. described telling the bouncer what had happened and identified a man standing near a railing as her attacker. The bouncer reportedly said sarcastically, "Right...that's Kirby Puckett. If you want something done you'll have to call police."
On cross examination, Defense attorney Chris Madel tried to point out inconsistencies in K.L.'s testimony and that of two other friends who testified. He went line by line through several different reports and pointed out that K.L. hadn't described Puckett grabbing her breast in the initial reports; that even though at least four men were supposedly in the bathroom at the time of the incident no one offered to help her.
The prosecution displayed pictures that appeared to show slight bruises on the woman's arm and ankle. A digital picture that police took of the woman's breast was not preserved. Prosecutor Alan Harris said the jury would hear testimony that the officer didn't save the digital image properly.
The woman also testified that she hasn't spoken to a lawyer about the possibility of suing Puckett. She was not asked if she was considering it.
After court, Kirby walked through a crowd of several reporters and camera people. He didn't respond to their questions but did talk to a young fan.
"Kirby Puckett? Can I get your autograph?," the fan said.
"I can't sign right now, man. How about a handshake?" said Puckett.
Testimony is expected to continue at least until Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report