|Friday, March 28
Witness testifies Puckett dragged woman into restroom
MINNEAPOLIS -- A witness testified Friday that he saw former Minnesota Twins star Kirby Puckett drag a woman into a men's bathroom at a restaurant, and that she appeared terrified when she came out moments later.
Alan Anderson, 31, was at the Redstone American Grill in Eden Prairie early Sept. 6 when Puckett allegedly forced the woman into a stall in the bathroom and grabbed her breast before she escaped.
"He was dragging her into the bathroom. She was trying to resist him,'' Anderson said on the second day of testimony in Puckett's trial.
Anderson said he saw her try to hang on the door frame and saw the woman's friend yell her name into the restroom. He said he thought woman and Puckett were boyfriend and girlfriend, until she emerged.
"She was terrified. She was almost in tears. She was about to break down,'' Anderson said. He said she replied "no'' when he asked her if she was all right. "I thought this isn't right. Something happened here,'' he said.
Puckett, the Hall of Famer whose playing career was cut short by blindness in one eye, is charged with false imprisonment, a felony; fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, a gross misdemeanor; and fifth-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors say the stiffest sentence they would seek is no more than a year in jail if he's convicted on all counts.
Puckett maintains his innocence, and his defense has been highlighting inconsistencies in the prosecution witnesses' police statements and testimony. Defense attorney Todd Jones has said he will "connect the dots'' for the jury later.
Puckett has been subdued throughout the proceedings, saying nothing to reporters and keeping his distance from the public. During breaks in the trial, his lawyers have kept him sheltered in a conference room down the hall from the courtroom.
Jones said Puckett might testify Monday, when the defense is scheduled to begin presenting its case.
Anderson -- who didn't know the woman or Puckett before that night -- said the woman accepted his offer to help find her attacker. Anderson said he spotted the man on the patio. And while he didn't know then that it was Puckett, he recognized the man's distinctive blue shirt.
On cross-examination by Jones, Anderson said he had had seven bottles of beer. He said he felt a little buzzed, but not intoxicated.
Friday's second witness was Jaime Lindgren, 37, who was at the Redstone that night and met the alleged victim for the first time. Lindgren said the woman told her around 12:30 a.m. that Puckett had attacked her. She also said the woman did not appear to be drunk.
"She did not want to pursue this. And I said you cannot let this happen,'' Lindgren testified.
Michael Fry, 28, who was the Redstone's assistant general manager that night, said Puckett's accuser told him she had been assaulted. She tried to show him a bruise on her arm, but he couldn't make it out. He said he told her he could certainly ask the man to leave.
Fry said he then confronted Puckett, who "vehemently denied'' assaulting the woman. He said Puckett told him the only thing he did was show someone the inside of the men's room. He said Puckett told him she went freely.
The woman had been calm but started to scream as he spoke with Puckett, Fry said. She claimed they weren't going to do anything because Puckett was a baseball player, Fry said.
Asked if he tried to "coddle'' Puckett, Fry denied it. He said they made every effort to help. And he said it would have been illegal to stop him from leaving, as the woman seemed to want, he said.
Attorneys didn't ask Fry if he asked Puckett to leave. He said he didn't see Puckett go because he was with the woman, who called 911 on her own cell phone. He also said he didn't learn the alleged assault was sexual until she gave police her statement.
The alleged victim claims Puckett squeezed her breast hard enough to cause a bruise. While police have pictures of bruises on her arm and ankle, pictures of the bruise on her breast taken later didn't turn out.
Cpl. Joyce Holton Conley, who has been with the Eden Prairie police for 27 years, testified she took two or three pictures Sept. 9 of a "dime-sized'' bruise on the woman's right breast and that it was "light lime green.'' But when she took the digital camera to a detective they realized it wasn't working. She said she asked again how to use the camera and tried again, but once again the pictures didn't turn out. It wasn't clear if the camera malfunctioned or if she wasn't using it properly.
Two doctors who examined the woman testified they saw bruises on the woman's arm and wrist, and some swelling and tenderness near her ankle. Dr. Melissa Mark, who saw her Sept. 11, also said she found a bruise on the woman's breast but did not recall the size. Both doctors, who are family practitioners, said a forensic specialist would be in a better position than them to determine the age of the bruises.