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HBO Footage Could Force Mistrial for Cops Acquitted of Rape, Says Lawyer

By DNAinfo Staff on July 6, 2011 7:01am  | Updated on July 6, 2011 8:38am

By Shayna Jacobs

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — HBO has agreed to hand additional unseen footage from its documentary on the Manhattan District Attorney's sex crimes unit to attorneys representing two former police officers acquitted of rape, one of the lawyers said.

The unaired footage was excluded from HBO's movie, "Sex Crimes Unit," when it aired June 20. But lawyers say it could force a mistrial in the case against former police officers Kenneth Moreno, 43, and Franklin Mata, 29.

Joseph Tacopina, who represents Moreno, said Tuesday the network is "putting together" the compilation of cutting room floor clips that will be turned over to the defense next week.

A recording of less than one hour of footage was handed over last week.

HBO did not return a call for comment.

Tacopina told Judge Gregory Carro on June 28 that he believed that the footage — which includes interviews with lead prosecutor Coleen Balbert and former sex crimes unit chief Lisa Friel, as well as with investigators — may include information about the case that should have been, but was not, turned over by prosecutors.

Prosecutors are required to share any such information with the defense before the start of trial.

Tacopina said June 28 he believed there was "more footage" than the less than an hour of outtakes included on a DVD turned over by the District Attorney's office.

That office declined to comment on Tuesday, but Assistant DA Balbert said June 28 that "we have inquired and we are informed there is not [more footage]. What we have provided is in its totality."

She called the failure to turn over the clips an oversight.

In light of the HBO footage, judge Carro postponed the sentencing for the officers until Aug. 8.

A jury voted to acquit the officers on rape and burglary charges stemming from a December 2008 incident in which the officers were accused of taking advantage of a drunk 27-year-old clothing company executive in her East Village apartment.

The officers have been convicted of official misconduct charges, and face up to two years in prison at sentencing.

Tacopina and Mata's lawyer Edward Mandery have already asked the judge to toss the conviction and could argue for a mistrial based on what they find in the footage.

Friel abruptly stepped down from her post shortly after the documentary debuted. She told friends and colleagues the move was a personal financial decision and denied rumors that she was forced out of her position.

The HBO crew, headed by director Lisa Jackson, spent about a month following the unit for the documentary.