Attorney for family of slain Detroit stripper: City ‘undeniably destroyed this murder investigation’
Attorney Norman Yatooma won a major battle this week as he represents the family of slain stripper Tamara Greene in a civil lawsuit against the City of Detroit, but it’s not yet clear whether he’ll get to fight his war.
U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen on Wednesday chided the city for destroying Kwame Kilpatrick’s emails, ordered the city to pay legal fees to Yatooma and confirmed that jurors in a potential trial would be told about the destroyed evidence.
But Rosen also said he is struggling to decide whether or not to even send the case to a jury.
“They destroyed evidence they knew they had to produce,” Yatooma said this morning on WJR-AM 760, (http://wjrpodcasts.com/podcasts/paulwsmith/Yatooma-100611.mp3) minutes before he was scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery. “They destroyed evidence the court ordered them to produce. That said, the court still has to determine if we’re going to be able to go to trial.”
Family members believe Kilpatrick and other city leaders conspired to derail and delay Greene’s murder investigation. As the long-running but never-proven rumor goes, Greene danced at a wild Manoogian Mansion party several months before her 2003 death.
Yatooma has spent years readying for trial, but he admits his case is largely circumstantial — along with the destroyed evidence, several officers working the case lost their jobs and successfully sued the city — a reality that is giving the judge pause.
“There’s no getting around the fact that they destroyed this murder investigation,” Yatooma said. “Every cop who has touched an investigation related to Kwame kilpatrick or Tammy Greene has paid for it with their job, if not worse.”
The ultimate question is not whether the city fired officers or destroyed evidence, it’s whether those actions constitute a willful intent to disrupt any and all investigations. It’s up to Rosen to decide whether a jury should hear that circumstantial evidence and be allowed to infer intent.