Albany County District Court Judge Tori Kricken won’t allow Carl Granderson, a football star for the University of Wyoming who is currently signed with the New Orleans Saints, to have two separate jury trials for the two women who’ve accused him of sexually assaulting them the night after UW’s final football game of the 2018 season.
The 22-year-old is scheduled for a three-day trial beginning July 15. He’s been charged with third-degree sexual assault for allegedly molesting two UW students who were sleeping at his Laramie apartment.
Granderson’s attorney, Megan Overmann Goetz, requested the charges stemming from that incident be separated into two trials, one for each alleged victim.
Goetz wrote in a June 14 request to the judge that having Granderson face all charges in one trial would be “highly prejudicial” to the defendant.
“Without a bifurcation of the two alleged victims, jurors could decide the defendant’s guilt for charge/alleged victim #1 based upon being informed of facts and circumstances surrounding the other charge/alleged victim #2 or vice versa,” Goetz said. “Based upon the discovery provided by the state to the defendant, neither of the alleged victims claim to have any observations, evidence or information to support or corroborate the others’ claims.”
Kricken has now denied that request, saying having only one trial will “serve the public interest by expediting the administration of justice and conserving judicial time and economy by avoiding the need to recall witnesses including Mr. Granderson, law enforcement, and other to multiple trial.”
However, Kricken vowed to “undertake care to instruct the jury that it is to consider these offenses separately and to guard against the possibility of prejudice and confusion.”
Attorneys on both sides have been filing a number of pre-trial motions ahead of the trial for the football star, who was widely expected to be highest drafted football player out of UW in the 2019 NFL Draft.
After he was charged with sexual assault, university officials distanced themselves from the athlete and the defensive end went undrafted.
He did become the Saints’ highest paid undrafted free agent this spring, earning a $85,000 contract.
According to pre-trial filings, Goetz is likely to question the character of his accusers at trial.
Kricken ordered UW officials to turn over the student files of the two alleged victims after Goetz argued that some specific records may reference the charges regarding Granderson and motives for the accusations.
Goetz had originally asked for “any and all student files, including disciplinary, athletic or academic records or otherwise.”
Prosecutors argued against that, and Kricken acknowledged there’s a “legitimate interest in protecting the victims from harassment and preventing unfounded and potentially time-wasting incursions during trial into irrelevant and superfluous side issues.”
Instead of giving Goetz all of the student files, Kricken’s ordered UW to only turn over files that mention Granderson by Monday.
“While this court has serious concerns about whether Mr. Granderson has met the specificity and admissibility requirements to service a motion to quash, the court deems it appropriate to permit defense counsel to have access to the requested materials to allow counsel to determine whether (the two victims) have made any statements regarding these pending allegations against Mr. Granderson that may be exculpatory for Mr. Granderson.”
Regardless of what those files might reveal, Kricken said the contents won’t be grounds for delaying the trial.
Kricken’s also issued a protection order for the files, saying that the contents can only be revealed to Goetz, Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent, and two of Trent’s deputies.
While Goetz has not revealed in public court filings what character evidence she might bring to impugn the alleged victims’ credibility, prosecutors have already tried to get Kricken to block the possibility.
In Wyoming, character evidence of victims, the defendant and other witnesses is allowable in certain circumstances, especially to allow a jury to determine the truthfulness of their claims. Since the exact nature of the specific character evidence in this case has yet to be revealed, Kricken has ruled it would be premature to disallow it.