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Character Witnesses Take Stand To Defend Ravi In Rutgers Webcam Trial

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Dharun Ravi in court (credit: CBS 2)

Dharun Ravi in court (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The first defense witnesses were presented on Friday in the trial of a former Rutgers University student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney: Testimony Wraps Until Next Week

The defense isn’t revealing whether Dharun Ravi’s will testify in his own trial, but his attorneys put seven character witnesses on the stand.

Sandeep Sharma, the first defense witness of the day, is president of R-Squared, the information technology company where Ravi’s father is chairman. When asked whether he has ever seen Ravi say anything derogatory to homosexuals, or heard him describe homosexuals in a derogatory fashion, Sharma simply replied, “No.”

Ravi is accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, having an intimate encounter with another man in September 2010. Clementi committed suicide days later.

Prosecutors are trying to prove Ravi targeted his roommate Tyler Clementi because he was gay, reports CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

Ragi Rathinasabapath and Girish Warrier, friends of the Ravi family, and Anil Kappa, a partner in Ravi’s father’s company, also took the stand and defended Ravi, testifying that they’ve never heard Ravi speak ill of particular homosexuals or homosexuality in general.

The prosecution rested its case against Ravi on Thursday after calling nearly two dozen witnesses and presenting about 100 pieces of physical evidence during the first 10 days of testimony.

Investigator Frank Denino says no one has told him Ravi hated gays.

“I didn’t speak to a witness in this group that indicated that,” he said.

Ravi is charged with 15 criminal counts, including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and seven charges that he tried to cover up his actions.

Defense lawyers have not said whether Ravi himself will testify.

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(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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