Detective grilled in day 5 of Simon prelim

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A Michigan State Police Detective spent roughly three hours under cross-examination by attorneys for former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon Tuesday.

The fifth day of the hearing wrapped up around 5:10 p.m. after hearing from two witnesses. The hearing has stretched over the course of several months.

Prosecutors are trying to prove there’s enough evidence to send Simon to trial on charges of lying to police in the Larry Nassar investigation. 

Simon is charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors in the case. She told police she knew a sports medicine doctor was under investigation in 2014, but did not know it was Nassar specifically. Prosecutors say that was a lie.

>>Day four recap

>>Day three recap

>>Day two recap

>>Day one recap, including case background

Detective Sergeant Bill Arndt, who’s one of the investigators who interviewed Simon in May 2018, spent much of the day on the stand. Arndt is also the one who testified to get the warrant for Simon’s arrest issued.

Under direct examination by Assistant Attorney General Scott Teter, Arndt recounted Simon telling them while she was aware of an MSU sports medicine doctor who was under Title IX investigation in 2014, she did not know it was Nassar specifically until 2016. Teter also walked Arndt through Simon’s testimony in front of a U.S. Senate Subcommittee that took place in June 2018, asking Arndt if there were inconsistencies between the two.

Arndt testified this interview was conducted as part of a criminal investigation into MSU’s handling of the Nassar case. However, under cross-examination by Simon’s attorney, Lee Silver, he testified that, while he recalled informing Simon that her interview was part of that investigation, her being informed was not on a recording of the interview, nor was it documented. 

Silver said Simon needed to be informed of this in order for her to be charged with lying to a peace officer.

Arndt said the lack of documentation was an “oversight.”

“Why, Detective Arndt, wouldn’t you just tell Dr. Simon on the record once you started the audio recording that you were conducting a criminal investigation?” Silver asked.

“Hindsight’s always 20/20,” Arndt replied. “I wish I did, but we didn’t.”

Arndt was also grilled by Silver about Simon’s former Senior Advisor, Paulette Granberry Russell’s interviews with investigators. Arndt testified Granberry Russell was informed of the fact police were conducting a criminal investigation. But this, too, was not documented.

Granberry Russell had testified she does not recall telling Simon about Nassar in 2014, and she said the same things in interviews with investigators, according to the transcripts. Arndt testified he believed that conversation happened, based on notes that were on a folder used by Granberry Russell, and an agenda used by Simon during that meeting. However, the notes on that agenda do not include Nassar’s name.

“She’s saying she doesn’t specifically remember the conversation,” Arndt said. “She’s not saying she didn’t have the conversation. She’s recalling that she doesn’t specifically recall mentioning Larry Nassar in that conversation.”

“That’s right,” Silver interjected. “She doesn’t remember telling Dr. Simon about Larry Nassar specifically.”

Silver also asked Arndt about his testimony in getting the warrant sworn out.

“If Paulette Granberry Russell has no recollection of the meeting on May 19, and has no recollection of ever discussing Larry Nasar specifically with Lou Anna Simon, why did you respond ‘yes’ to Judge Reincke’s specific question of ‘Was the May 14 folder with Nassar’s meeting on it discussed at the May 19 meeting between Dr. Simon and Paulette Granberry Russell?’ ” Silver asked.

“What she said was, she didn’t recall whether the meeting was in person or if it was by telephone,” Arndt replied.

“That’s not what those questions and answers from the transcript that we just read said,” Silver said.

Granberry Russell’s testimony is key to the case, as prosecutors say it’s her notes written on a folder and agenda used in a May 2014 meeting with Simon that prove Simon knew about Nassar that year. Simon had told police she was not aware Nassar specifically was the subject of those allegations prior to 2016.

Prior to Arndt’s testimony, Simon’s former Executive Staff Assistant, Marti Howe, retook the stand for cross-examination by Silver. Howe testified that meetings Granberry Russell, could be canceled at the last minute, or changed from an in-person meeting to a phone meeting. These changes might not be reflected on Simon’s calendar.

This is consistent with what Granberry Russell testified to earlier in the hearing.

Simon’s preliminary exam resumes July 12.

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