WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Bill Allen won't be testifying today after all in Sen. Ted Stevens' disclosure trial.
On Friday, the government ran out of witnesses because the trial had been running faster than expected.
After being scolded by the judge for keeping the jury waiting, prosecutors announced that Allen, its chief witness and the former chief executive of Veco Corp., would open the day Monday. Allen was in town, and his lawyer, Bob Bundy of Anchorage, had been a regular presence in the back of the courtroom -- even for pretrial matters before the case opened on Thursday.
But Allen's scheduled testimony was also marked with controversy and possible delay -- the scope of cross examination remains undecided. Prosecutors are seeking to limit the kinds of questions that Stevens' attorneys can ask Allen in an effort to impeach him. In particular, they want to prevent questions about Bambi Tyree, who, as a 14- or 15-year-old, told friends she had sex with Allen. She is now 27 and is listed as a potential defense witness.
The defense says Stevens' right to confront the witnesses against him includes exploring whether Allen believed he wouldn't be prosecuted over Tyree if he agreed to plead guilty to federal public corruption charges and testify against Stevens and others.
On Saturday, the government revised its witness list for today, putting Allen back at least until Tuesday and probably later. He's replaced with a list of 14 other witnesses, including Courtney Boone, Stevens' former spokeswoman, and several former Veco employees.
Tyree's father's name has come up several times in the trial already, but in a different context. Mark Tyree, who died in 2005, was the Wasilla plumber hired by Veco to install the pipes, fixtures and heating in the renovations it provided for Stevens on his Girdwood home. Earlier this year, the Daily News reported that over the years, Allen provided gifts, including cars, for Bambi Tyree and her family.
Anchorage police have an open investigation of Allen for sexual abuse of a minor involving Tyree and at least one other woman.
In a motion filed Friday, the government sought to limit the questions of Allen and two other government witnesses, Allen's nephew, David Anderson, and his go-to problem solver, Rocky Williams, who worked as the foreman at Stevens' house. Both Anderson and Williams "are rumored to engage in excessive alcohol consumption," the government acknowledged.
Prosecutors asked the judge to "limit questioning of these witnesses when the cross examination strategy behind the questioning will serve no purpose other than to impair the search for the truth; harass, annoy, or humiliate the witness; improperly inflame the jury; and unfairly prejudice the government's case against defendant."
Stevens' attorneys said that the Allen investigations have already been publicly reported.
"The defense has no desire to smear any government witness," it wrote. "The Sixth Amendment, however, ensures that a criminal defendant will be entitled to explore his accusers' credibility and any motivation to lie."
Contact reporter Richard Mauer at firstname.lastname@example.org.