Reporting Juliet Papa
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Thirteen jurors have spent the last two and a half months contemplating the guilt or innocence of NYPD officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata.
Defense attorney Joseph Tacopina opened his summation Friday with the point he hopes will clear his client, Moreno, who is charged with sexually assaulting a drunken fashion executive inside her apartment in December 2008.
“The evidence was not there” to convict, he told jurors.
1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports: Defense Says Accuser Not Incapacitated
Four hours later, Tacopina ended his summation in defense of Officer Moreno with tears and a reddened face in front of the jury. He then sat apart from his colleagues, as he composed himself.
Later, CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman questioned him about whether or not reasonable doubt had been established during the trial.
“I mean, look, this is a case I think where reasonable doubt is larded in the evidence and in the testimony. I think the jurors could find a host of ways to acquit Officer Moreno,” Tacopina said.
The way Tacopina challenged reasonable doubt was to rip apart the story the woman who said she was raped by police told on the witness stand. Attacking her credibility, Tacopina told the jurors, “She drank five Red Bulls in an hour! Five Red Bulls! Folks, don’t try this at home! She might’ve been a drunk, but she was an awake drunk!”
Morneo and his partner Mata, who is accused of serving as a lookout but also charged with rape, were both dispatched to help the alleged victim in this case.
Surveillance video shows they returned to her East Village apartment a total of four times. But Tacopina told the jury, “There is no proof whatsoever that she was physically helpless.”
The accuser testified that after the two officers escorted her into her apartment while she was very drunk, she spent the rest of the throwing up and passing out. But Tacopina referred to the surveillance video where she is seen walking and talking to the cops as they went into the building.
Tacopina also used the testimony of his toxicology expert saying someone who is no longer drinking is sobering up, their blood alcohol level decreasing.
He then asked the jury why would the cops return to take advantage of someone who was no longer incapacitated.
Tacopina also told jurors to consider the memory factor in weighing the credibility of the accuser.
“Keep in mind that she tell dramatically different versions of her story at different times, at the hospital, to investigators, to this jury,” he said.
Mata’s lawyer and prosecutors have yet to give their summations.
“Everything really boils down to the rape charge. If you find that he did not commit rape, everything else falls by a common sense argument,” Tacopina said.
Everything else includes, among other things, four charges of official misconduct.
WCBS 880′s Irene Cornell reports: Tacopina Talks To Jury About Accuser
Moreno is also accused of falsifying a patrol log and making a fake 911 call, all to allegedly buy them more time inside the apartment where prosecutors say Moreno raped the intoxicated woman in her bedroom.
“These patrol guide violations, by themselves are not crimes,” Tacopina said.
One of Tacopina’s challenges is to neutralize any damage his case may have suffered during Moreno’s time on the witness stand.
On Wednesday, Moreno admitted that he kept secrets about the night in question. Assistant district attorney Coleen Balbert grilled the cop about the details of the night in question, determined to bring down Moreno on the witness stand.
And when asked about Officer Moreno’s credibility on the stand, and his “I don’t kiss and tell” remark, Tacopina said, “He kissed her head; he kissed her back. ‘I don’t kiss and tell’ … that’s just who he is. He’s just being genuine!”
Tacopina also told the jury that the woman who said she was raped is motivated, in part, by her $57 million suit against the city.
Many observers believe that for some of the jurors at least, the rape charge has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The district attorney will get a last chance to make a convincing argument Monday or Tuesday.
If convicted, Moreno and Mata could face up to 25 years in prison.
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