Testimony underway in trial of Tyler Clementi's roommate, live video

The roommate of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student who jumped off the George Washington Bridge to his death is on trial, 17 months after Clementi's suicide.

Dharun Ravi, of Plainsboro, New Jersey is charged with 15 counts of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation arising from the September 2010 suicide. He has not been charged with causing the death of Clement but the bias intimidation charges are considered hate crimes and could net Mr. Ravi up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Ravi set up a webcam in the room he shared with Tyler Clementi, 18 at Rutgers University to capture Clementi's romantic encounters with other young men. Read: N.J. Teen Tyler Clementi Jumps to Death After Secret Taping.

When others saw the video and learned of Clementi's sexual orientation the 18 year-old from Ridgewood, NJ is said to have been distraught enough to kill himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, but not before leaving a suicide note in the form of a Facebook post

On Friday, it was learned from a staffer at the university who handled room assignments that Clementi requested a room change that wasn't seen by anyone at the university until after the fact.

Ravi's defense team is portraying their client as a prankster, not a hater while the prosecutors in Middlesex County, NJ are convinced that there was malicious intent when the webcam was set up and began recording.

The Wall Street Journal reported on defense counsel Steven Altman's opening statement: "He’s not hateful. He’s not a bigot. At 18, he didn’t have enough experience in life to know about being gay or homosexuality. When we get done here, you are going to see he might be stupid at times, he was an 18-year-old boy, but he is certainly not a criminal.”

Witnesses said last week that Ravi's reason for installing the camera in the first place was to guard against theft of his personal belongings because Clementi's visitor was unknown to him, according to the Los Angeles Times. "He was older, maybe not a Rutgers student," Alvin Artha told the court.

Artha was living in the same dorm as Ravi and Clementi and chose to leave the dorm room when asked to watch the video with Ravi and Molly Wei.

Ms. Wei began her testimony yesterday and continues her testimony today. She told the court that she was arrested along with Ravi but was able to strike a deal with prosecutors to keep her from being charged with the same crimes as her fellow Rutgers student.

NBC News is streaming live video from the courtroom. Ms. Wei testified about how two days after she watched video with Ravi, she learned about his Twitter invitation to his followers, inviting them to watch along with him.

Wei told the court Monday:"First of all, it was shocking. It felt wrong. We didn't expect to see that. And now that what we did, it was like we shouldn't have seen it." Nevertheless, after initially agreeing with Ravi not to discuss what they saw, they ultimately began to tell people and show them pieces of the video.

MSNBC live feed of the trial can be found, here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Ravi should be charged with being stupid, nothing more. The prosecutor is blowing this all out of proportion and looking to make a name for herself. How much is this costing the taxpayers.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Guess what? I believe that nobody was motivated by anti-gay sentiment. I think the one who filmed it could have been gay himself, and a lot more people were aware Clementi was gay than is told-possibly because he let them know himself long ago. However, I think this is an even darker and more vile crime than what's claimed and if others saw it that way, we could get this fool for much longer. If he was to make a film of this, would he just settle for putting it on the net for free or would it be more probable he'd sell it to a porn site and charge people to see it? I think he wanted to market it and get money for it. In this context, this is the most cowardly form of human traffic around. So many films many didn't realize for were on the net or for sale of really embarrassing and destructive things if it gets out in a really public way of things that only the worst of us would find sexy are made and distributed from people on the toilet to children running around without clothes on to everything at all and one pays fees to even get them. Ditto for DVDs. So, I think the real motive was to exploit vulnerability for human traffic. I sure don't think he's just a teenager acting like most-I think he's a slave trader and should be punished as such. REAL MEN DON'T BUY KIDS OR ANYONE ELSE

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