Kilpatrick’s disappearing computer: ‘I never saw it,’ Cockrel says

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s computer seems to have slipped into the abyss.

Kilpatrick said in an affidavit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Detroit that he gave the computer to Ken Cockrel Jr., his successor as mayor, when he resigned from office in 2008.

But Cockrel said Tuesday: “I never saw it,” admitting he was surprised by Kilpatrick’s claim. “I don’t know where his computer is, but that doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t know where it is.”

The whereabouts of Kilpatrick’s computer has triggered a legal controversy. A federal magistrate judge currently is considering sanctioning the city for destroying or losing Kilpatrick’s computer and, consequently, destroying e-mails that could be relevant to lawsuits.

The disappearance of Kilpatrick’s computer became public last month when city lawyer John Schapka disclosed during an evidentiary hearing that computers belonging to Kilpatrick, and to his former mistress and chief of staff Christine Beatty, were thrown out and replaced in February 2008 — seven months before Kilpatrick resigned.

The disclosure was made during a hearing in the lawsuit involving slain exotic dancer Tamara Greene, whose family is suing the city and Kilpatrick, saying they intentionally botched her murder investigation to prevent her killer from being caught.

Greene, 27, of Detroit was killed in a drive-by shooting in April 2003, six months after she supposedly danced at a rumored but never proved party at the mayoral Manoogian Mansion.

The city and Kilpatrick have denied a cover-up and are seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed.

Meanwhile, U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen scheduled a hearing for Dec. 1 to help him decide whether to sanction the city for spoiling electronic evidence.

Attorney Norman Yatooma, who is representing the Greene family, requested a default judgment against the city, saying it intentionally destroyed e-mails.

Kilpatrick’s lawyer, James Thomas, countered in documents that sanctions aren’t warranted, holding that Yatooma waited “until the very last day of discovery” to ask for Kilpatrick’s e-mails.

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