Jun 28

State’s key witness recants statements

State’s key witness recants statements

Pioneer Press – 2011-06-28

The state’s key witness against Diane Bakdash – the Roseville mother accused of helping her son sell the car he allegedly used to kill a man – has recanted damning parts of his statement to police, the woman’s attorney contends.

In a statement given to a private investigator working for the woman, the unidentified witness claimed Minneapolis police misstated his comments about his friend, murder defendant Timothy Bakdash, and said he called them repeatedly to get it corrected.

“The cops put down that I overheard Diane Bakdash say something that night, and that is not true,” the man, identified only as “B.B.,” allegedly told the private eye. “I’ve told them at least three times now that when I was on the phone, with (Timothy) Bakdash, that I overheard a woman. Whether it was his mother, I don’t have a clue.”

On Monday, Hennepin County District Judge Daniel Mabley scheduled a hearing for Aug. 15 on Diane Bakdash’s motion to dismiss the charge against her. Bakdash, 66, is accused of being an accomplice after the fact in the case of her son, who faces charges of murder and attempted murder in the April death of a University of Minnesota student and the injuring of two others.

Timothy Bakdash, 29, also of Roseville, allegedly used his mother’s car to run down Benjamin Van Handel, 23, an economics major from Appleton, Wis. The incident occurred early April 15, and Van Handel died six days later.

Timothy Bakdash’s trial is set for November.

The day after his arrest, Minneapolis police arrested his mother, a psychiatric clinical nurse, on charges that she helped her son conceal the crime. She was accused of helping him get rid of the car, a silver 2004 Mitsubishi Galant.

She was accused of signing the title of the damaged car so her son could sell it to his friend – a man identified in court papers as “B.B.” – for $1,500 hours after the incident.

The police affidavit laying out the probable cause for the charge against the woman claimed that B.B. told police that he heard Timothy Bakdash speaking with his mother on the phone and that she told him “he had to get rid of the car that night. She also stated she would sign the title.”

But Diane Bakdash’s attorney, Ryan Garry, filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that there was no probable cause to charge the woman and that much of the state’s case against her is based on B.B.’s statements – and that the man is now saying police got it wrong.

He bases his argument on a statement from Raymond DiPrima, a former special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension who now works as a private investigator in St. Paul. DiPrima interviewed B.B. in May.

The interview “directly contradicted the information alleged in the complaint,” Garry wrote.

“When I was on the phone with Tim Bakdash, I could hear someone in the background. It sounded like a female voice,” B.B. purportedly said in his statement to DiPrima. “What she said I couldn’t tell. I didn’t know if the woman was Diane Bakdash or not. I have never spoken to Diane Bakdash.”

In the statement, B.B. said that when he later read a police report on his statements to officers, he noted several misstatements. In particular, police had him saying Diane Bakdash told him to get the car that night.

“That is incorrect. His mom never told me that,” the man told DiPrima. “What I explained to the police was that Tim Bakdash was saying this is what his mom said. I never heard his mom say this. I’ve told the cop at least three times that Tim said this, not his mom.”

The Hennepin County attorney’s office said it would oppose Garry’s motion and had no plans to drop or alter the case.

Sgt. Steven McCarty, a spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department, would not talk about the case or B.B.’s claims. “It’s all still under investigation,” he said.

If there were a change in the state’s narrative of the case, it wouldn’t be the first. Police and prosecutors had originally said the incident stemmed from an argument Timothy Bakdash and Van Handel had outside a Minneapolis bar that evening.

Capt. Amelia Huffman, who heads the Minneapolis police homicide unit, said at the time that the argument was over “bruised feelings.”

But last month, Charles Laszewski, a spokesman for the Hennepin County attorney’s office, said investigators had later determined Bakdash and Van Handel had never met and never argued.

Rather, he said, Timothy Bakdash apparently intended to run over somebody else and struck Van Handel by mistake.

For Timothy Bakdash, it matters little from a legal standpoint whether he allegedly intended to kill Van Handel or another person. The concept of “transferred intent” holds a defendant equally liable whether he kills his intended victim or somebody else.