Carlita, Bernard Kilpatrick seek to avoid depositions in exotic dancer case

Detroit — Two of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s closest relatives want to avoid questioning in a lawsuit brought by the family of slain exotic dancer Tamara “Strawberry” Greene.

Kilpatrick’s wife, Carlita, and his father, Bernard N. Kilpatrick, filed motions Sunday asking a federal judge to quash their depositions in the case.

Late today, Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen ordered the motions stricken from the court’s docket. Rosen said the court filings included a deposition schedule that had been ordered sealed. Rosen instructed Bobbie Edmonds, the attorney for the two Kilpatrick relatives, to refile her motion without the sealed record.

Carlita Kilpatrick says being questioned could adversely affect a federal criminal case against her husband, in which he faces felony fraud and tax charges. Bernard Kilpatrick, who was a Detroit business consultant while his son was mayor, argues it would be unduly burdensome for him to sit for a deposition and answer questions under oath.

Norman Yatooma, the Birmingham attorney representing Greene’s family, said Sunday’s motions are more of “the same old nonsense” and an attempt to delay the lawsuit.

Similar motions to quash the depositions were already brought by the city of Detroit and denied, Yatooma said.

“There is no way this is going to fly,” he said. “We’re going to ask the judge to sanction them for bringing these motions.”

If Carlita and Bernard Kilpatrick are required to answer questions under oath, both will cite their rights against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, their Texas attorney, Edmonds, said in a court filing. Edmonds also asked Rosen to order that the depositions not be videotaped and to award them attorney fees and other costs related to the deposition.

Greene, a stripper linked to a rumored party at the mayor’s Manoogian Mansion in the fall of 2002, was shot to death in Detroit on April 30, 2003. Her family is suing the city and the former mayor, alleging they obstructed the investigation of her still unsolved murder for political reasons. The defendants deny the allegations.

Carlita and Bernard Kilpatrick both live in Texas and are scheduled to be deposed in the Dallas area on Aug. 6.

Kwame Kilpatrick is at Milan federal prison, serving time for a state probation violation and awaiting trial on his federal charges.

“Carlita Kilpatrick … was not present during the events that led to the death of Tamara Greene and has no knowledge,” Edmonds said in a court filing. “She was not a city employee and would not have any direct knowledge of decisions regarding such investigation.

“More importantly, both she and her husband, Kwame Kilpatrick … enjoy spousal privileges such that she is forbidden from testifying in any way contrary to his interest. Kwame Kilpatrick enjoys a Fifth Amendment protection due to the state and federal criminal cases.”

Edmonds said that “if compelled to attend,” both Kilpatricks “will assert their right under the Fifth Amendment … to decline to give testimony that may be incriminatory.”

Bernard Kilpatrick has also been under federal investigation as the FBI examines whether contractors seeking city business were pressured to hire him as a consultant.

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