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Brandon's Big Gay Blog

DJ Bell assault: Lohra Miller's KCPW interview

by Brandon Burt
- Posted // 2009-10-16 -

Yesterday's Jeff Robinson interview with Salt Lake County D.A. Lohra Miller provided some insight on why D.J. Bell's attackers have yet to be prosecuted. (Busy folks needn't worry about a lengthy time commitment -- it clocks in at around six minutes; so go ahead and give it a listen.)

Robinson gets right to the point, and asks many of the questions we have all been wondering about.

Miller seems guarded and careful not to give away too much information -- that's the way interviews with D.A.s generally go -- but she emphatically denies that Bell's sexuality had anything to do with the choice to prosecute him rather than pursue charges against the assailants. (To Miller's credit, she recovered from using the despised phrase "sexual preference", immediately replacing it with the more accurate term "sexual orientation.") 

If the D.A.'s Office wasn't initially presented with sufficient evidence to prosecute the assaults, I suppose there's not much it could do but send the case back to South Salt Lake. But this bit about not knowing whom to prosecute seems a little sketchy. After all, it doesn't take CSI-style forensics to come back with, say, fingerprints.

Was Bell's apartment even dusted? If not, I'd imagine Miller's office would be very interested to find out why not. 

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Posted // October 16,2009 at 10:07

I appreciate Jeff Robinson's work but he missed a big follow-up question. When Lohra Miller says that a critical prosecution witness was unavailable to testify and that's a big reason why the trial went the way that it did, I think she owes it to the public and to Bell to "proffer" that witnesses's testimony so that the public can judge for itself whether that testimony was really crucial. It's a cop out (pun intended) to explain one's defeat by simply citing a witness issue without explaining why that witness issue was make-or-break.

As it stands, we just trust (or distrust) Miller blindly, that what this mysterious witness would have testified was critical to the case.

Even if Robinson had asked, "Who was that witness and what might he or she testified?" Miller may not have answered. She might even say that her choice to not answer that question is to be fair to Bell, because relitigating the case in the media after a jury found him not guilty is not only tacky, but unfair.

But she already is relitigating the case in the media--to an extent--by seeming to claim the prosecution would have won if only this witness would have been available.


Posted // October 17,2009 at 00:30 - Hm. Good points, Jesse. And "relitigating" is a great word! Maybe I haven't been giving all this talk about the "missing testimony" as much weight as it deserves since I'm skeptical that any such damning testimony ever existed -- and, at any rate, it's immaterial now that Bell has been judged innocent of any wrongdoing. Prosecutors obviously have to say something to save face. But if it becomes a big talking point, one has to wonder if saving face is the only reason. But it's certainly strange coming from somebody who's so concerned about "undue pre-trial publicity"!