NEW YORK - A Georgia man accused of stalking Tyra Banks was simply responding to the model-turned-TV host's invitation for fans to reach out to her when he followed her from coast to coast, a defence lawyer said Friday.
Lawyer Sydney O'Hagen said in her opening statement at Brady Green's trial that he was just an overzealous fan who had hoped to be in Banks' studio audience, meet her and perhaps be a guest on her show.
O'Hagen noted that people interviewed on "The Tyra Banks Show" are not just celebrities, but often ordinary people who have had unusual experiences. She said Green, with his harsh, disadvantaged background, had hoped to be on her show.
The lawyer said Green never asked for Banks' personal information and never claimed they were meant to marry and have children. The things he did, O'Hagen said, "simply do not constitute a crime" and he gave Banks no reason to fear she was in danger.
Assistant District Attorney Shawn McMahon disagreed. He said Green accused an employee of lying when he said he didn't know where Banks' show was taping. The defendant told him, "I'm going to find you and slit your throat," McMahon said.
McMahon also cited the note Green enclosed with flowers he sent to Banks: "When I see you, I love you," it read. He said Green was a stranger to her.
The prosecutor said a copy of that note was in Green's duffel bag when he was arrested March 18, 2008, in a McDonald's near Banks' Manhattan studios.
Banks, a former Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover model, told police Green's actions made her fear she was in danger, a court complaint said. She is expected to testify at his trial.
McMahon said Green, 38, falsely told police he and Banks, 35, were friends.
Court papers filed by McMahon quoted Green, of Dublin, Ga., telling police, "I know her. She knows me. We're good friends."
After explaining that he had taken a bus from Los Angeles to New York to see her, he told police, "We had a thing together. I sent her flowers. I sent her cards. Should I plead no contest? I've got satellites watching me and recording us," according to the court documents.
Green has pleaded not guilty to stalking, criminal trespass and harassment. He faces 90 days in jail on the stalking charge, the top count, if he is convicted.
Manhattan Criminal Court Judge James Burke is hearing the misdemeanour trial without a jury. He adjourned the trial until April 27.
Banks also hosts the reality show "America's Next Top Model."