|Puckett on Trial|
Minneapolis, Minn. — Prosecutor Al Harris told jurors the evidence proves Kirby Puckett dragged the alleged victim into the Redstone Restaurant's men's restroom and, "didn't escort her as a gentleman (as Puckett had testified) but threw her around like a rag doll and fondled her breast," he said.
Harris told jurors to keep in mind that the victim, identified by initials K.L. in court documents, promptly reported the crime not only to her friends but also police. He told them to strongly consider testimony from a man "as independent as he can be from the principals in the case," said Harris.
Alan Anderson, 31, who said he saw Puckett take K.L. into the men's room and shortly thereafter saw K.L. leave the men's room looking "terrified and frantic." Harris told the jury to keep in mind physical evidence, photos of bruising on K.L.'s arm and ankle; and physicians who testified to a bruise on her right breast.
He also disputed suggestions that K.L. and friends were drunk. He asked jurors to remember the Eden Prairie police officer who led the department in drunk driving arrests and testified K.L. and friends were sober.
Harris ended his arguments by explaining the three crimes with which the state has charged Puckett: false imprisonment (a felony); 5th degree criminal sexual conduct; and 5th degree assault. He asked the jury to find Puckett guilty on all counts saying, "equal justice, not celebrity justice."
Puckett's attorney, B. Todd Jones, began by putting his hand on Puckett's shoulder and saying, "Kirby Puckett is innocent of the charges. The state did not meet their (sic) burden of proof."
He then looked at jurors and said, "celebrity status doesn't cut just one way." He reiterated the theme of his opening statement that the only two people who really know what happened are K.L. and Kirby Puckett. "Who's telling the truth up here?" He told jurors to keep in mind the witness' credibility, recall and motivations.
He said Puckett helped K.L. into the men's room. "It wasn't the wisest choice, but it was simple; he took her in," said Jones.
Jones pointed out inconsistencies in testimony from K.L.'s friends that testified and what Harris described as the independent, Alan Anderson. He said Anderson had been drinking. He also left out a major element to K.L. and her friend's description that K.L. was in a "tug of war" between Puckett on her left arm and her friend on her right arm. Jones said Anderson said he never saw anyone holding on to K.L.'s right arm.
Jones brought in a bit of drama when he put a drawing of a bathroom stall, with what appeared to be the exact dimensions, on the floor right in front of the jury box. Several jurors stood to watch as Jones, a man Puckett's size, could not have pushed K.L. into the stall.
"See that man?" he said while pointing to Puckett. "He's a big man." Later, Jones added that Puckett can't see out of his right eye, there were other people in and outside the bathroom and "if this was as bad as she (K.L.) said, why didn't she call for help?"
Jones suggested the woman's real motive might be to sue Puckett and the restaurant, a comment that brought a rebuttal from the prosecutor.
"There is not one shred, not one speck, of evidence that there has been a lawsuit started, consulted, or in any say raised" by the woman, Harris said.