Jury Deliberations Begin In Rutgers Webcam Spying Trial
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (CBSNewYork/AP) – The case of Dharun Ravi, a former Rutgers University student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate’s encounter with another man, is now in the hands of seven women and five men.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports
The jury was given the case around 11 a.m. Wednesday. After a nearly four-week-long trial, it comes down to what they believe.
Judge Glenn Berman delivered his instructions before handing over the case.
“It is you duty to weigh the evidence calmly and without passion, prejudice and without sympathy,” the judge said. “Any influence caused by these emotions has the potential to deprive both the state and the defendant of what you promised them — a fair and impartial trial.”
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If Ravi is found guilty of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, he faces up to 10 years behind bars and possible deportation back to India.
“All of you must agree if the defendant is not guilty or guilty on each charge,” Berman said.
The challenge for jurors could be deciding whether the laws apply to what Ravi is alleged to have done.
“You are to apply the law as I have instructed you, to the facts as you find them to be for the purpose of arriving at a fair and correct verdict,” Berman told the jury.
He faces 15 charges. Four are invasion of privacy and attempted invasion of privacy charges, where the required proof is that he saw or disseminated images, or attempted to, of private parts or sex acts, or a situation where someone might reasonably expect to see them.
Four charges allege bias intimidation. Ravi can be convicted of intimidation if he’s also found guilty of an underlying invasion-of-privacy charge. Two of those charges are second-degree crimes punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Berman told jurors on Wednesday that they can convict Ravi of bias intimidation only if he knew or should have known that invading the privacy of his roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, would have sparked some fear or intimidation because Clementi was gay.
Seven charges accuse him of trying to cover his tracks. Among the allegations: that he deleted and changed Twitter postings and text messages and told another witness what to say.
In closing arguments Tuesday, defense attorney Steven Altman told jurors that 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 Sept. 19, 2010, encounter.
And he said Ravi was not acting out of hatred of his roommate or gays in general when he saw the image from his webcam on the computer of another student.
“If there’s hate in Dharun’s heart, if there’s ugliness in Dharun’s heart, where’s there some information and some evidence to support it?” Altman asked jurors.
Clementi committed suicide the day after prosecutors say Ravi used a webcam to spy on an intimate encounter between Clementi and another man in their dorm room and then tweeted friends about a “viewing party.”
Prosecutors say he did it to expose Clementi’s homosexuality.
“He was so shocked that within about four minutes, he sent out a tweet, because he was seeking advice?” prosecutor Julia McClure asked. And, she said, there was evidence that he then told other students about what he’d seen and invited them to a friend’s room where they could see for themselves.
The defense argued that Ravi used the webcam to keep an eye on his belongings since a man he didn’t know would be coming into the room.
Clementi’s mother and father have been in court throughout the trial as have Ravi’s parents.
There’s no telling how long it will take before a verdict is reached.
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