Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Athlete's Credibility Called Key Trial Issue

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Athlete's Credibility Called Key Trial Issue

Article excerpt

A day after a jury acquitted three men of stabbing Pittsburgh Steelers lineman Mike Adams, Allegheny County's top prosecutor and one of the defense attorneys traded barbs about the case, the judge and a witness.

Bill Difenderfer, who represented acquitted defendant Jerrell Whitlock, Thursday said the case against his client, Michael Paranay and Dquay Means tanked largely because of Mr. Adams' credibility problems.

District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. questioned whether a surprise defense witness lied on the stand, complained about how Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani handled his courtroom and dismissed implications that a sheriff's lieutenant who runs security for the Steelers coached Mr. Adams to change his story.

In remarks made after an appearance in Wilkinsburg to express support for a state bill to create a prescription drug monitoring program, Mr. Zappala wondered how three men were acquitted despite the injury to Mr. Adams in June.

The prosecution said Mr. Adams was stabbed by the defendants as they attempted to steal his truck. But the defense contended that Mr. Adams knocked food out of Mr. Paranay's hands and that when the three men asked Mr. Adams to pay for the food, he refused, causing a fight.

"Let me tell you really simply," Mr. Difenderfer said. "Before you say somebody is guilty of whether it's attempted murder or aggravated felonious assault, which would carry possibly 10 years in prison, before you do that, should you be sure of who did it?"

That was the problem, Mr. Difenderfer said -- the prosecution could not prove who stabbed Mr. Adams. And, he added, the football player did not help himself with his own testimony.

Mr. Difenderfer claimed that Mr. Adams lied at a preliminary hearing about how many drinks he had on the June night he was stabbed on the South Side (the offensive lineman testified that he had misunderstood the question). …

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