Heard No Noises, Smith Case Witness Says
A Kennedy family friend told jurors in the William Kennedy Smith rape trial Sunday that he heard no sound in the predawn hours of March 30, even though he was in a bedroom at the oceanfront estate just above the lawn where a woman has claimed Smith attacked her.
Earlier Sunday morning, outside St. Edwards Church, Smith told reporters that he hopes to testify. “Yes, I think the truth will come out,” he said as he climbed into a waiting limousine.
In the seventh day of the trial, Stephen Barry testified that he “didn’t hear any loud noises at all” that night at the Kennedy Palm Beach compound, although the windows were open in the second-floor bedroom and outdoor sounds could easily be heard.
He was one of three defense witnesses who took the stand Sunday.
Another witness testified that material in the accuser’s panties matched a soil sample from the beach, rather than one from the lawn. And a forensic expert testified that he found no samples of blood, grass, soil or sand in the accuser’s clothing, or fabric tears, despite the accuser’s contention that she had been slammed against the lawn.
Smith, the nephew of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), is accused of raping a Jupiter, Fla., woman at the estate after meeting and dancing with her at a Palm Beach bar.
Barry, a prosecutor in Manhattan, testified that in his bedroom he was able to hear conversations taking place in a sitting area near a beach retaining wall at the eastern edge of the lawn. The implication was that Barry and his wife would have heard sounds of a struggle had one taken place, as the victim alleges.
Statements from 11 people at the compound that night indicated that none had heard any screams. Prosecutors have argued that wind and surf conditions at the seashore that night could have muffled loud noises.
Earlier, Jay Siegal, head of Michigan State University’s forensic science programs testified that his analysis of inorganic material from the woman’s underwear convinced him that it could not have come from the lawn, but could have come from the beach.
While the woman has claimed that she was raped on the lawn, the defense is attempting to show that the pair had consensual sex on the beach. On cross-examination, Siegal acknowledged that sand could be carried on human bodies from the beachfront area to the lawn.
Prosecutor Moira K. Lasch suggested that Smith could have carried sand with him when he emerged from swimming naked in the ocean and that he could have transferred it to the accuser’s body in the attack she alleges.
“Wouldn’t you assume that a 6-foot-2, 200-pound man running up a beach would churn up some sand?” she asked.
Dr. Henry Lee, director of the Connecticut State Police crime lab, said that he had found no tears, abrasions or separations of fabric in the woman’s clothing that would indicate a struggle.
In a test, he said, he wiped two white cotton handkerchiefs across the soil, grass and concrete staircase at the east side of the compound, and found that materials adhered to those surfaces. He concluded, he said, that some trace material would have remained on the clothing had the woman been struck against the ground as she testified.
But on cross-examination, Lee acknowledged that he had not conducted any tests to determine whether the grounds were in the same condition as they had been on March 30.
Ellen Roberts, an assistant state attorney, noted that three-quarters of an inch of rain had fallen the night before Lee arrived in Palm Beach to conduct his test. There was no rain on March 30, and only one one-hundredth of an inch on March 29, Roberts observed.