Kraft attorneys seek to exclude video evidence

Attorneys for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft filed a motion Thursday to exclude video evidence in his solicitation for prostitution case, a move that could prove pivotal.

Kraft and the other 24 defendants had previously filed a motion to block public release of the video, which has been described as graphic, but Thursday’s motion in Palm Beach County, Florida, seeks to exclude it from the case altogether.

The defense team argues that Jupiter, Florida, police had no basis to install video cameras in the Orchids of Asia Day Spa as part of their investigation, and that the evidence should be thrown out.

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That evidence is a key element in the standoff between defendants and prosecutors over a deal that could see the misdemeanor solicitation charges dropped.

Prosecutors offered Kraft and the others a deal that would expunge their records and seal the evidence permanently, which would be an ideal result for the defendants. But one of the state’s conditions is that Kraft and the other defendants admit they would have been found guilty had the case proceeded. Kraft has not specifically denied receiving sexual services at the spa as described by law enforcement, but sources in Kraft’s inner circle have said he refuses to admit that anything he did was a crime.

The state’s best leverage against Kraft is the possibility that the evidence could be released publicly, which lawyers say is likely under Florida’s broad open records law. (ESPN is part of a media consortium opposing the defendants’ efforts to block release of the video or any other evidence.)

The motion to suppress comes two days after Kraft and others pleaded not guilty and demanded jury trials, and was a natural next step in the case.

If Kraft’s motion is successful, the state has little leverage to force him into conditions he doesn’t want, and it would weaken the state’s case. If a judge rejects the motion, then Kraft has greater incentive to agree to the deal and bring the episode to an end.

A disposition hearing in Kraft’s case is scheduled for April 9.

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