Witness in trial may have been coerced

The defense for alleged rapist Antonio Burton inferred Monday in Hennepin County District Court that testimony from key witness Rachel Kemptner might have been coerced.
Kemptner reluctantly testified last Wednesday that she heard Burton bragging about committing the rape of two female University students.
The four men implicated in the Oct. 8, 1996 break-in fled to Kemptner’s St. Paul apartment in the early morning hours after the attack.
When Kemptner returned to the stand Monday, she testified under cross-examination that she felt threatened by investigating police officers and worried she would be harassed by friends and family of the defendant.
“You’d lie to protect yourself, wouldn’t you Ms. Kemptner?” asked defense attorney Joseph Margulies.
“Yes, I would,” she replied.
Kemptner testified that she was told by police that she would be arrested on several charges and possibly have her child taken away if she didn’t cooperate.
Minneapolis Police Sgt. Carrie Gerlicher, who investigated the case and questioned Kemptner on several occasions, testified earlier in the day that such threats were never made. But Kemptner, who for the first time exuded certainty in her testimony, refuted Gerlicher’s testimony.
Under Margulies’ questioning, Kemptner testified she told police exactly what they wanted and expected to hear. Kemptner said police prompted her on what they wanted her to say.
“You don’t think they treated you very fairly, do you?” Margulies asked finally.
Shaking her head and wearing a look of contempt, she replied, “No.”
Margulies also brought to light that the pressure may still be on Kemptner. She said she was reminded by the state as recently as last Monday that charges could still be brought if she did not cooperate.
Prosecuting attorney Steve Redding then made sure the jury heard Kemptner back up her earlier statements in spite of her more recent testimony.
“What you told the jury that Antonio Burton said… was that true?” Redding asked.
“Yes,” she meekly replied.
The prosecution could finish calling witnesses as early as today, with the case possibly going to the jury by Wednesday.