The jury has begun deliberating in the trial of Dharun Ravi, the former Rutgers student who is accused of committing a hate crime by spying via webcam on his gay roommate.
Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman charged the 15-member jury this morning for about an hour and a half, then three alternates were randomly chosen. Two men and a woman were chosen as alternates, leaving five men and seven women to deliberate.
Ravi faces 15 counts of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, and tampering with evidence and a witness.
Ravi can only be found guilty of the bias intimidation counts — meaning he targeted his roommate, Tyler Clementi, based on his sexual orientation — if he is found guilty of the accompanying invasion of privacy charges.
Prosecutors say Ravi, 20, was motivated by a hatred of gays when he turned on his webcam from a friend’s laptop on Sept. 19, 2010 and saw his Rutgers roommate of three weeks kissing a man. He tweeted what he had seen and invited others to watch a second time via twitter.
Ravi’s lawyers say he was unprepared for what he saw on the webcam, and reacted as any 18-year-old kid inexperienced with homosexuality would. They contend he acted immaturely, but is not prejudiced or biased.
Ravi is not charged in Clementi’s death, but if convicted of the top bias charges faces up to 10 years in prison.
Should he get max punishment? Sounds a little steep!