Nancy Solomon, Managing Editor, New Jersey Public Radio
Nancy Solomon is the Managing Editor of New Jersey Public Radio.
The jury in the trial of a former Rutgers University student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate ended its first day of deliberations without reaching a verdict.
The jury went home for the day Wednesday afternoon after about four hours of deliberations. They are expected back in court Thursday morning and will continue to deliberate every week day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until they have reach a verdict on all charges.
Dharun Ravi faces 15 criminal counts, including bias intimidation and invasion of privacy.
Earlier in the day, the jury asked the judge to clarify the bias intimidation charge, which is a hate crime. The jury must first convict Ravi of invasion of privacy before it can find him guilty of bias intimidation, a hate crime that adds an extra five years to the sentence. The question came after jurors had deliberated for less than two hours.
Jurors got the case Wednesday after the judge spent two hours explaining the 15 charges against the 20-year old.
The judge told the jury to think of the charges as falling into four categories: invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, hindering a prosecution and tampering with evidence. The state alleges Dharun Ravi used a webcam to watch his roommate having an intimate encounter with another man.
Ravi's roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide in September 2010, just days after the alleged spying.
He posted the experience to his Twitter account and then invited followers to video chat him two days later when his roommate asked for private use of the room. The state also alleges he deleted tweets and texts to avoid prosecution.
On September 19, 2010, Ravi tweeted "roommate asked for room til midnight. Went into Molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. yay."
Two days later, he tweeted "Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it's happening again."
On Tuesday, the defense argued he was just a stupid kid who didn't know how to deal with his roommate using the room for sex. The prosecution countered that he was unhappy about having a gay roommate, had told his friends about it, and now he had a chance to prove it.
The jury of seven women and five men will have to determine if Ravi violated Clementi's privacy, or attempted to.