Jury hears closing arguments in Hamey case

Posted: Sunday, October 17, 2010

A jury began deliberations Friday afternoon in a case where a former Juneau-Douglas High School basketball coach is accused of second-degree sexual assault.

Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

Those deliberations began after both District Attorney Doug Gardner and Louis Menendez, the lawyer for James Hamey, delivered their closing arguments.

Hamey used to work for Care-A-Van, the door-to-door service that provides senior citizens or persons with disabilities with transportation. He is accused of arriving at the residence of a Care-A-Van client unannounced in 2009, grabbing her breast and trying to put his hand into her pants.

"The evidence shows that Mr. Hamey had a lot of trust in his position as a Care-A-Van driver," Gardner said. "It isn't usually the prom queen that gets sexually assaulted, it is people that have some of the attributes the victim had."

Gardner said the alleged victim was depressed, suffered financial problems and was targeted by some for derision. And, Gardner said, Hamey knew of her issues, based on his interview with Juneau Police Department Detective Krag Campbell.

"It is also against Alaska law," Gardner said. "He was aware she was disabled and he took advantage of her... read the testimony, you will come to the conclusion that he is guilty of second degree sexual assault without her consent."

The audiotape of that interview, along with recordings from two phone calls between Hamey and the alleged victim, were entered into evidence during the trial. The phone calls were obtained through a wiretap authorized by a warrant. Both Gardner and Menendez used those recording as key points in their summations.

"You don't have to take victims word on it, or mine, take Mr. Hamey's word on it," Gardner said. "He said it two or three times... it is proven over and over."

"Hamey was a Care-A-Van driver, what was he doing squeezing the breasts of a client?" Gardner continued. "Isn't it reckless? He had an obligation to figure that out... she didn't say no or didn't say yes."

In one of the recorded phone calls, the alleged victim said "I didn't invite you... why did you grab my breast... say it won't happen again."

Hamey is then heard apologizing and saying it wouldn't happen again.

Gardner compared Menendez' attempts to demonstrate the encounter wasn't an assault and that Campbell was incomplete in his investigation to a scene from "Star Wars."

"Obi-Wan Kenobi says 'It didn't happen,'" Gardner said while moving his arm in a wide arch.

Menendez countered by saying the facts supporting the state's case continually changed. He pointed out Hamey was in Sacramento, Calif. on the day the alleged victim told the grand jury she had been assaulted. After that testimony entered the record, the state changed the date of the alleged assault, Menendez said.

"When we produced a witness they wanted to take another look at it," Menendez said. "Does something bother you about that? Detective Campbell jumped to conclusions, didn't check all the facts. ... People violate promises, get caught in mortgages, but one of the things we have left from our fathers is 'You swear to tell the truth. ...' She didn't just get the dates wrong, she got everything wrong."

Menendez said Hamey didn't deny touching the victim's breast in his interview with Campbell because the two were not talking about the same thing, Campbell wanted him to admit to a crime he didn't commit and Hamey was talking about hugging and touching a woman who was not his wife.

"Two people have a relationship," Menendez said. "It happens in preexisting relationships. It is not against the law. ... The simple touching of a breast is still not a crime of sexual assault in the second, you need something on top of that. ... Sexual assault has to have an evil character."

Gardner objected to that term and Menendez withdrew it, saying instead that Hamey was wrong because he was married and he hugged someone other than the wife he loved.

"He was saying tomato and officer Campbell tomaato," Menendez said. "It wasn't a forced situation, it was mutual. Simply doing an act doesn't make a crime; it has to be done with recklessness."

Hamey was given the opportunity to testify by Judge Philip Pallenberg, but Hamey declined.

The jury received the case Friday afternoon. It requested to hear the alleged victim's testimony again. Pallenberg informed the jury they would be required to listen to the whole recording, which is about two hours long. The jury decided to break for the day instead. They will reconvene 8 a.m. Tuesday.

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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