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Jury begins deliberations in trial of ex-Rutgers student

By Karen Sudol, The Record (Hackensack, N.J.) –

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A jury will return Thursday to continue deliberating charges in the trial of a former Rutgers student who is accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate’s tryst with another man.

The jury of seven women and five men received the case late Wednesday morning after the judge spent 90 minutes instructing them on the law and charges brought against Dharun Ravi, 20, of Plainsboro, N.J. Three jurors, out of a total of 15 that heard the case, were selected as alternates and are not part of the deliberations.

Before the lunch break, the panel asked Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman for a copy of his order to the jury but he declined to give it to them. Less than two hours later they requested an explanation of one of the counts of bias intimidation.

They then continued to deliberate until 4 p.m. EDT before being sent home from the court in Middlesex County.

Ravi faces 15 counts of invasion of privacy, hindering prosecution and bias intimidation — a hate crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. As a native of India, he also could be deported if convicted.

The jury’s task is considered that much more complicated because some of the charges are contingent on others and contain subsections.

Prosecutors have said Ravi activated his webcam from the room of his Rutgers dorm mate Molly Wei and watched Tyler Clementi, of Ridgewood, N.J., and his male companion, identified only as M.B., kissing on Sept. 19, 2010.

Ravi two days later tweeted an invitation to friends to video chat him to see a second tryst for themselves, prosecutors said. He’s also accused of deleting tweets and text exchanges with friends and trying to coach Wei in what to say to authorities.

Clementi, who read the invitation tweet, prevented any second tryst from being watched when he unplugged Ravi’s computer. A day later, he committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, which generated a national conversation on cyber bullying and teenage suicide.

Ravi’s attorneys have characterized Ravi as an 18-year-old boy who committed a stupid, immature act but not a criminal one. Ravi has also said he used the webcam to ensure his iPad wasn’t stolen by Clementi’s guest.

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