Trial Evidence Can Include How Alydar Injured

The judge who was scheduled to preside in the federal perjury trial of a former Calumet Farm employee ruled on June 19 that evidence about how the stallion Alydar became injured more than seven years ago could be heard. However, U.S. District Court Judge David Hittner also said that, with one exception, he would not force federal prosecutor Julia Hyman to turn over FBI reports, veterinary billing records, and other materials that Alton Stone's attorney believed could point to his client's innocence.

The trial was set to begin in Houston on June 23, and a report on its preliminary proceedings appeared in the June 20 issue of the Lexington Herald-Leader. According to the newspaper, Hyman, an assistant U.S. attorney, lost her argument that Stone's trial should be confined to the narrow scope of whether he lied to the grand jury. However, the prosecutor gained some ground in another respect. Defense attorney Christopher Goldsmith had suggested Hyman was withholding evidence that she was legally required to turn over. But the judge's actions seemed to support Hyman's contention that there was no basis for the charge of prosecutorial misconduct.

Stone was the groom who substituted as a night watchman on Nov. 13, 1990, when Alydar allegedly broke his leg in his stall. Two days later, the stallion was euthanitized.

Stone has been accused of lying to the grand jury investigating Alydar's death as well as the possibility of fraud involving a failed Texas bank. Inconsistencies in Stone's testimony include who asked him to take the place of the regular night watchman and where he was at the time Alydar's injury occurred.

Hyman believes Alydar's mishap was no accident. Calumet was deeply in debt, and she has suggested that the injury was engineered to collect on the stallion's $36.5-million insurance policy. The insurance money allowed the farm to pay $20.5 million to its biggest creditor, First City Bancorporation of Texas. The bank had threatened to foreclose on the famous Central Kentucky nursery less than three weeks prior to Alydar's death.

How Alydar became injured was considered a key issue in Stone's perjury trial because, under a rule of law, it is important to prove that any lies told to a grand jury were meaningful. If the stallion's death was only an accident, then Stone's inaccurate grand jury testimony would be immaterial and the trial's jury could find him not guilty on that basis.

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