Closing Arguments End In Rutgers Spycam Trial; Jury To Decide Dharun Ravi’s Fate
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Closing arguments have wrapped in the trial of former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi, who is accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate kissing another man in their dorm room.
Ravi’s roommate Tyler Clementi committed suicide on Sept. 22, 2010.
The jury will start deliberating Wednesday. Ravi is charged with bias intimidation as a hate crime, invasion of privacy and hindering apprehension. However, he is not being charged in connection with the death of Clementi.
If convicted of the most serious charge, bias intimidation, Ravi could spend up to 10 years in prison. Ravi can be convicted of intimidation if he’s also found guilty of an underlying invasion-of-privacy charge.
During closing arguments Tuesday, defense attorney Steven Altman told the jury there’s no evidence to show Ravi used a webcam to spy on Clementi making out with another man, or that he did it to expose Clementi’s homosexuality, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports
In the second half of his closing argument, Altman told jurors that Clementi wasn’t intimidated because he continued with his plans to have an encounter with the other man known as “M.B.” even after discovering Ravi’s Twitter messages.
“We know he was consciously aware of the Twitter message that was sent out,” Altman said. “Would you not think that’s enough to say ‘I’m not doing this.’ Would anybody who is being intimidated, scared, in fear, concerned with their privacy continue with any behavior when he knows his privacy is perhaps going to be violated?”
Earlier Tuesday morning, Altman said Ravi was surprised to turn on his webcam and see his roommate in an intimate situation with another man.
He emphasized that there was no recording, no broadcast and no YouTube video of the encounter.
Altman then pleaded with the jury to make the distinction between a young man’s mistake and criminal intent.
“Was it as you might very well expect a typical 18-year-old, or kid, to react? Or was his reaction criminal? Did it rise to the level of a crime?” Altman asked the jury. “That’s why you’re here. That’s what you’ve got to decide.”
Altman also attempted to make it clear that his client has no bias against homosexuals.
“If [Ravi] has this hate for gays, such concern about his roommate, wouldn’t you think you would have heard of something between August 21 and the middle of September?” Altman asked. “No text messages to anybody, no tweets.”
The defense rested Monday without calling Ravi to the stand. Prosecutors said Ravi wanted to expose Clementi’s homosexuality and tweeted — daring others to watch the encounter.
Clementi allegedly pulled the plug on the camera after seeing the tweet, Sloan reported.
During the 12 days of testimony in the trial, jurors heard from about 30 witnesses. They did not hear testimony from Ravi himself, though they did see video of a statement he gave to police.
There’s no dispute that Ravi saw a brief snippet of video streamed live from his webcam to the laptop of a friend in her dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010.
Ravi posted a Twitter message that night that concluded: “I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”
Later, Wei showed some other students. They said the men had removed their shirts, and that the web stream was turned off after mere seconds. Wei was initially charged, but later entered a pretrial intervention program that could allow her to avoid jail time and a criminal record if she complies with a list of conditions.
Two days after the first incident, Clementi asked for the room alone again. This time, Ravi tweeted: “Yes, it’s happening again” and “dared” followers to connect with his computer to video chat. There was testimony that he told one friend that there was going to be a “viewing party” at Rutgers.
But there was no webcast. Ravi’s lawyers say it’s because he disabled his computer before Clementi had “M.B.” over. And witnesses placed Ravi at Ultimate Frisbee practice for most of the time he was asked to stay away from his room.
The challenge for jurors could be deciding whether the laws apply to what Ravi is alleged to have done.
One of the invasion-of-privacy charges accuses Ravi of viewing exposed private parts or sex acts, or a situation where someone might reasonably expect to see them.
Another accuses him of recording or disseminating the images to others. There’s no evidence that the web stream was recorded, and witnesses said Ravi wasn’t there when Wei opened the web stream for other students.
Each of those charges says Ravi committed invasion of privacy, or attempted to, out of malice toward gays or that Clementi believed he was targeted because of his sexuality.
(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.)