Statue toppling cases start with dismissals


Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C.

Problems identifying protesters on video hindered North Carolina prosecutors Monday as they sought to hold demonstrators responsible for toppling a Confederate statue last summer.

A judge dismissed the criminal cases against the first two defendants to appear in a series of individual trials, and he found a third not guilty. Trials for five others are to take place at a later date.

Prosecutors showed videos of protesters bringing out a ladder, attaching a rope and yanking down the statue in front of a Durham County government building in August 2017. But defense attorneys successfully argued through a series of objections that investigators had failed to meet stringent standards to prove the first two defendants were the people seen on the video.

In dropping charges against defendant Peter Gilbert, Durham County District Court Judge Fred Battaglia noted “the court must dismiss this case now ... because the identification has not been made.” He cited a similar reason for dropping the case against the first defendant of the day, Dante Strobino.

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