NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A former Rutgers University student accused of spying on his roommate has turned down a plea deal that would have kept him out of prison and sought to prevent his deportation.
Appearing in court Friday with several relatives in attendance in a strong show of support, Dharun Ravi‘s lawyer told a judge that his client would proceed to trail, set for Feb 21.
Ravi allegedly used a webcam to watch his roommate, Tyler Clementi, have an intimate encounter with another man in their dorm room in Sept. 2010. Prosecutors said the video was then streamed live in an Internet chat room.
Clementi later jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.
The judge says the state offered a deal with no prison time that would include community service, probation and counseling. Ravi’s attorney, Steven Altman, also says the state agreed to help Ravi if federal authorities sought to deport him. Ravi is in the U.S. legally, but is not a citizen. It is unclear where he’s from.
“Your client is rejecting the offer?” Judge Glenn Berman asked.
When Altman answered in the affirmative, Berman responded: “That’s your right.”
It’s not clear what the charges were under the plea agreement.
Altman said his client’s reason for rejecting the deal was simple.
“Simple principle of law, simple principle of life,” Altman said. “He’s innocent, he’s not guilty. That’s why he rejected the plea.”
The judge says he would accept a plea until jury summonses are sent out in January.
Ravi has pleaded not guilty to 15 criminal counts, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation.
Earlier this week, Clementi’s mother told People Magazine this was his “favorite time of year…so we’re trying to find a new way to celebrate Christmas. I’m sad and trying to get through this.”
The magazine interview came out on the same day the teeanger’s parents launched the Tyler Clementi Foundation. In a statement they said they’re doing it because: “We want to do our part to help save lives and reduce the anguish of those who are tormented because of the way they look, their sexual orientation or just for being different.”
The accomplished violinist’s suicide touched off a national conversation on cyber-bullying.
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