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Rutgers suicide trial: Defendant doesn't hate gays, lawyer says

March 13, 2012|By Michael Muskal

Dharun Ravi, charged with using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate during a sexual encounter in their Rutgers dorm room, is a man without hate, his lawyer argued Tuesday.

Defense attorney Steven Altman presented the defense summation of the trial that has become a national symbol of the type of extreme bullying that gay-rights advocates say homosexuals sometimes face. The prosecution is scheduled to summarize its arguments later in the day, and the case could go to jury deliberation by Wednesday.

Ravi did not hate his roommate, Tyler Clementi, nor did he hate gays, Altman told the jury. "If there's hate in Dharun's heart, if there's ugliness in Dharun's heart," he said. "Where's there some information and some evidence to support it?"

The question of hate is a key issue that the jury will ponder. If convicted of the hate-crime counts, Ravi could face up to 10 years in prison.

He faces a variety of charges, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation in connection with using a webcam to spy on Clementi during a private encounter. Clementi committed suicide by jumping off of the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, 2010.

Ravi is not charged in connection with Clementi's death, just in relation to the events preceding it.

According to accounts of the events leading up to the recording, on Sept. 19, 2010, Clementi asked Ravi to give him some privacy in their room so that he could meet with a friend -- who testified in the trial but was disguised to protect his identity. Known as M.B., the man was among the more than two dozen witnesses in 12 days of testimony.

The prosecution and defense agree that a webcam stream from Ravi’s room went to a laptop in the room of one of Ravi’s friends, Molly Wei, who also was initially charged in the case. She testified for the prosecution after reaching an agreement to avoid jail time.

According to witnesses, the stream of video showed Clementi and M.B. without shirts. However, the stream was never posted on the Web, as originally thought.

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michael.muskal@latimes.com

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