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Tallahassee police detail investigative process in Jameis Winston case

The Tallahassee Police Department released a timeline Wednesday into the investigation of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston that challenges accounts from attorneys critical of the department's work.

"As we have previously stated, this is an active investigation, and we are not going to discuss details that could possibly impact this case," interim police Chief Tom Coe said in a statement. "At the same time, there have been process questions that I want to respond to because I believe they demonstrate TPD's professionalism and the investigative processes of a sexual battery case."

According to the police's timeline, the accuser identified Winston — who has not been arrested or charged with a crime — as a suspect on Jan. 10, about a month after she reported an off-campus sexual assault. She then scheduled a meeting with authorities.

The woman's attorney, Patricia Carroll, contacted the police the next day and said all future contact should go through her. The police timeline said the "meeting with the victim does not occur."

That contradicts the family's statement released last week, which said Carroll and the accuser were available to the police "at all times." Carroll said Wednesday that she had no knowledge of a scheduled interview and that police had already interviewed her client twice.

The TPD timeline said police filed a supplemental report Feb. 11, leaving the case open but inactive "and will be further pursued if the victim decides to pursue charges."

Evidence was sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Jan. 15, and the rape kit results became available Aug. 27. The timeline said toxicology results were available sooner, on Feb. 22 and March 29, then relayed to Carroll who "stated she would review the findings with her client and contact the investigator if she wished to pursue the case further."

Carroll reiterated Wednesday that she didn't get the results of the toxicology tests until April 4 — the last conversation she had with investigators for months. She said that it was a "very ugly situation" and that the family wanted to let the police decide whether to press charges.

"It became very apparent that it just wasn't in her best interest to do anything else," Carroll said. "If they contacted us, we were going to cooperate, of course."

The police timeline also said the department contacted an assistant state attorney to obtain cellphone records Dec. 7, the day a woman reported the assault.

State Attorney Willie Meggs has been critical of police for not letting his office know earlier about the investigation involving Winston, the Heisman Trophy front-runner. Meggs said his office couldn't review the case until Nov. 13, a few hours before TMZ first reported Winston was the suspect of a sexual assault case.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Meggs said police regularly contact his office because it has the authority to subpoena phone records. But he didn't know the high-profile nature of the investigation until this month.

"It was part of a day's work back then," Meggs said.

Tallahassee police contacted Winston during the week of Jan. 14, according to the timeline, and he declined an interview with investigators through his attorney on Jan. 23.

Winston's attorney, Tim Jansen, has said Winston was never interviewed by police and that the sex was consensual.

Jansen told the Tallahassee Democrat on Wednesday he was "deeply troubled" by the timeline's release because its details could taint a potential jury pool.

Earlier in the day, Jansen met with Meggs at the Leon County Courthouse to try to speed up the investigation, which he said could jeopardize Winston's Heisman chances and the undefeated Seminoles' shot at their first national title since 1999. A resolution isn't expected until next week at the earliest.

Times staff writer Tia Mitchell contributed to this report.

Tallahassee police detail investigative process in Jameis Winston case 11/27/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 10:19pm]
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