Robert Kraft’s path to legal victory just got a whole lot easier.
The New England Patriots owner’s legal team scored a major victory when a judge granted its motion to suppress video evidence obtained by police in Florida’s Orchids of Asia Day Spa, multiple outlets reported.
BREAKING: Judge grants Robert Kraft's motion to suppress video evidence in his solicitation of prostitution case. State may appeal, but this devastates their case against him.
— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) May 13, 2019
BREAKING: Judge has suppressed the video of Patriots owner Robert Kraft obtained by police from inside a Florida spa. Story to follow.
— A.J. Perez (@byajperez) May 13, 2019
Kraft has been embroiled in a bitter and embarassing legal battle for months since he was charged with prostitution solicitation in February. Assuming the state doesn’t appeal the decision, we might be nearing a definitive ending to the saga.
Florida prosecutors were depending on the Kraft video
Monday’s decision could wipe out a significant chunk of the case that prosecutors were planning to bring against Kraft in court.
There were essentially two things that tied Kraft to the prostitution ring bust: the surveillance video of Kraft inside the spa and the traffic stop used to identify customers leaving the spa. Kraft’s lawyers have argued both were obtained illegally.
The traffic stop has come under question after a recording of a police radio exchange reportedly captured the officer who identified Kraft saying he would “come up with something” to justify a traffic stop of the suspect who left the spa immediately before Kraft.
Kraft’s team has argued that the officers therefore likely didn’t have probable cause to stop and identify Kraft. With the traffic stop under question, the video of Kraft in the spa became even more pivotal for prosecution to officially tie the Patriots owner to the spa.
Spa video of Robert Kraft was obtained through extreme tactics
Like the traffic stop, Kraft’s team has argued that the police broke the law to capture the video of Kraft allegedly breaking the law. It filed the motion to suppress the video as evidence in mid-April.
The video, described Kraft’s attorney as “basically pornography,” was obtained after the Jupiter police department called in a fake bomb scare to Orchids of Asia and planted cameras in the vacated spa.
Kraft’s attorneys called the tactic “constitutionally problematic,” arguing that such means are reserved for “extraordinary circumstances” in cases involving felonies like terrorism and racketeering, not misdemeanor prostitution solicitation.
Police have claimed they were investigating more serious human trafficking allegations when they obtained the warrant, in which they cited a health specialist believing employees were living in the business due to the presence of beds and refrigerator.
No human trafficking charges have materialized, leading to Kraft’s attorneys calling the use of the video surveillance as evidence “categorically unnecessary and inappropriate.” Now, the video is officially out of the trial unless prosecutors appeal.
ESPN’s T.J. Quinn speculated that the development would lead to Kraft’s lawyers filing a motion to dismiss the case due to lack of evidence. Whether or not that motion is granted depends on where the prosecutors choose to go from here.
NFL discipline still looms for Robert Kraft
While Kraft might be able to escape legal repercussions, that doesn’t mean he would be out of the woods with the NFL
The NFL has adopted a wait-and-see approach with the case before it decides what to do with Kraft, be it a fine and/or suspension. Kraft has basically admitted to receiving services from Orchids of Asia, he’s just argued that he didn’t commit a crime while doing so.
Whether or not that violates the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy, which the league released a statement saying that it applied to owners as well, will rest with commissioner Roger Goodell.
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